2011 was mostly significant for the passing away of my sole remaining parent: Dad died on the 27th September. He was tired and worn out, and deserved to let go, at the age of 94.
My siblings and I have worked together to distribute amongst ourselves items of significance from our family life: I’ve been entrusted with the family collection of photographic slides and 8mm home movies. (And Dad’s collection of woodworking handtools. I’ll use them to build a small off the beach sailing boat later this year. Stay tuned for that story!)
The slides and movies go back to the time before I was born, in 1959, and go up to the last few years. They are a significant slice of social history. My job is to scan the slides to be put up on my Flickr page so that my siblings and I – and eventually the world blogosphere – can also enjoy looking at this snapshot of Australian social history. And the 8mm movies….wow! Of course, they’re silent, but they’re filmed in rich Kodak colour, which is for those of you who know pretty wonderful. I’ll be scanning those movies to digital files and posting them on my Vimeo page with the same intent as the slides.
Which brings me to one of my favourite topics – home movies, and ‘slide nights’.
Home movies, were for my family, pretty much our only source of in-house entertainment when I was growing up. Some evenings, after dinner was finished, Dad would pull out the Bell and Howell movie projector, and we’d watch again and again home movies of family holidays, and get togethers with cousins, aunties, uncles, grandparents. The projector would sometimes just be set up on the kitchen table, to screen on the door of the fridge. The same with slides. In the darkened kitchen, with the musty smell of the movie or slide projector getting hot, we’d be transported to other times. We talked, we laughed, and we were satisfied in a way that good screen-based entertainment can be satisfying, and well, nurturing. They were times when we became briefly close and connected as a family, instead of the semi-connected individuals that I recall we were for most of childhood and adolescence.
In recent months I re-named my Vimeo page ‘Richard’s Home Movies’. A bit twee, but that’s what they are. Sure they’re out there in the world wide web for anyone to see, but they are an intimate portrait of my family life with my children and partner. These videos are comforting. And they are a record of our family life that our kids love watching. Max has even started make his own movies: “doct-u-mentaries”, he calls them.
And here is the most recent. Just a compilation of a few days in our life, that started with Chinese New Year celebrations in the city, and a day out when the kids and I went to the Melbourne Aquarium.
So this year will be the sort of fresh start that means day to day life is only about my family – my partner and the kids – and nothing else. I’m resolved to bring from my upbringing only the best parts of my childhood – as few and far between as those ‘best parts’ were – and use that as a basis to nurture the development of my family towards an entity that is not only connected in some uniquely identifiable way, but where we will be meaningfully dependent on each other in such a way that we grow together, all of us, no matter what highs and lows come our way.
And this year’s new journey began with Maxie’s first day at school yesterday. It seems like only the other day that he started kinder.