Friday, November 30


My father turned 70 on Wednesday. Age is so funny, it seems so relative to me. My dad has always been my dad, and perhaps because he's always been 37 odd years older than me, he doesn't seem to get much older. He also isn't someone who has ever lived by society's expectations, so perhaps he never will age, in the usual sense, anyway.

There is going to be a grand party tomorrow, in Philadelphia. A friend of my parents is hosting it, and the guest list keeps growing. My mother and I brainstormed on how to celebrate my father's life during the course of the party, and we settled on doing a mix of music in chronological order bringing us from my father's birth year to today. This idea has evolved, and eventually it became mostly music that my dad really liked from the 50s-60s, plus some other tracks to fill in the other years.
This is my dad, probably when he was in high school.

I spent last Sunday working on this, downloading music from itunes and otherwise filling it out with CDs that we already owned. What's really amazing is the life that he has had. I mean this is totally self-centered, but it's hard for me to imagine his life before I was born. And here is all this obscure music that I've never heard, from a time before I existed, music that he himself requested. Ever heard of The Coasters? They had a really kick ass song called Searchin'. I recommend it.

Last week Christopher gave me some slides from his father's family and asked me to scan them so we could get prints made for the family. Today at work I scanned them during my lunch hour. They are really wonderful, a little peek into the family's life in the late 60s, including a picnic at his father's family's house and his very young mother, looking very shy.That's his dad on the left.

The human experience. These men were, in these photos, much younger than Christopher and I are now. They look so foreign and far away. I want to ask them what it's like there, in the era they are inhabiting. Oddly, I feel the same curiosity towards the photo of my young father as I do to the one of Christopher's dad, who Christopher barely knew. I suppose that this is just how things go, that we grow older and our youth is inconceivable to our children.


Friender said...

What an interesting post. I thought about this when we put together a slideshow and scapbook for our parents' 40th wedding anniversary. There are two particular photos of my parents from before they were married--in their early 20s. They were painting my dad's parents' house. They look so playful, young, and so good-looking. It's hard to imagine them without the responsibilities of parenting, just care-free...or at least looking that way.

Anonymous said...

Christopher's father is so radiant! And his son looks so much like him!

You convey here the same thoughts I have had in looking at old photos of my own family, or others who have shared the same space with me (school, etc) at an earlier time. - they will always precede me, young as they are in the photos. They have a mysterious, usually benign authority.
What will our images mean to those who will live in later times?