So I have been planning a surprise birthday party for my mom. She’s never had a party before. She’s on vacation so it’s been pretty fun planning this, I really hope we pull of the surprise. The feedback I’ve received from the people that I have pretty much contacting them out of the blue .. Mostly on Facebook (mom retired five years ago) has been amazing. Right now we have 40 confirmed guests and I am so excited I could pee.

So my brother and have been working on this together, and we wanted the perfect gift. We had a couple of ideas that haven’t worked out but I am pretty sure I have the perfect thing. 

I ordered an adaptor that will allow me to take 35mm slides and transfer them to my computer in to JPEG. I want to transfer them and make a scrapbook of the beautiful places that my Mom experienced before our lives became hard. My mom has a large box of slides that my dad took between approximately 1977-1980 something. I know I have looked through them before many, many years ago. So Yesterday I went to mom’s house and dug them out of storage. And I started looking through them.

Now let me tell you that I knew ahead of time the road this would lead me on and I was right in predicting so. It began as an omg look at those clothes, so vintage, so cool. Then it became I can’t believe how beautiful my mother is, I mean I knew it, but I KNOW it now. I spent 7 hours picking through tiny slides and holding them to a lightbulb until my eyes and my head hurt. I am not even close to half way through. And the road it led me on as I predicted in my head was completely accurate.

I can actually see in the pictures (parallel with my memory) the change in my dad’s face; almost to the exact moment when my happy childhood memories changed in to a nightmare. I wish I knew what happened to my dad to turn him in to a monster. I see that he looked so happy and fun when he was younger (his twenties). There was a time I believed through research and therapy that he began to abuse as a result of alcohol. He was drafted when he was 18 in to the Air Force. He hated it. But he was brilliant, so smart. He worked electronics when no one knew w t f that was. He was amazingly talented at wood crafting.  He knew how music was supposed to sound, and he could make it sound perfect and he loved to do it ; he was a hippie musician in a small band when he was drafted. He taught me a ton of things. 

He was against the war, and never fought in it; but did spend some time in Japan in 1972. Mom said he had an affair there, when he was 18. He promised that girl he would bring her to the USA, she wrote him and my mom found the letter and he was busted. But in the pictures after this, they still look happy. What happened dad? I’ve been angry at you for so long, but now I am intrigued. 

As I look through these photographs, I will never know what happened to him. No longer do I think it was something that happened to him as a child. Now I think it’s something that happened to him as an adult. Now I think it could’ve been the booze. The fact that booze could make a passive hippie drummer in to a mentally, physically and sexually abusive person is a horrifying yet very real thing. I watched it in person, and I am reliving it in his film. It seems he stopped taking pics as his alcoholism progressed. I remember the last time he took pictures of me and I have them. It wa a a fun day. The girl u was with lives very far away now….

He was always in competition with his brother / I have found pics that I remember my father saying during these times “it always has to be about my brother. He always has to take the better picture, or play the instrument better. He has always been the favorite because he was a sickly kid”.

I’ll never know what happened to my dad for certain because he hung himself just when I was old enough to feel it the worst, after cleaning up his vomit and urine as his alcoholism flew out of control and his secrets were exposed. The fear of the fallout took him to the grave, not the regret. At least that’s what I have believed this whole time.

30 years later, I am learning one more new and very relevant thing. And that is he is very much my DNA. I take millions of pictures, and they’re exactly the same as his. Sunsets, moons, daisies, happy children, lights, fireworks, love, peace and nature. The beauty he put in the pictures of my mother and I show his inner good. He wasn’t always a monster, he couldn’t be, because he is me. 



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