Friday, May 2, 2008

Photos With a Man I Never Knew

Although my mom saved this photo as “another” one of my Grampie, my brother, sister, mother, Uncle Malcolm and I (the baby being held up above Grampie’s head), it is the only photo I can recall seeing with myself and Grampie in the same place at the same time. My Grandfather, H.C. Petroff, died in Maine, when I was about 3 and living in Minneapolis. I had recently seen him, as three months before my Grammie had died, and I went along for the funeral (which I did not end up going to, as other family members thought it would not be a good idea). It’s hard to think that I never had a real opportunity to get to know this man, who I have been told I would have enjoyed the company of.

So. Now that my mom is putting all these photos up on the Picasa Web Albums, I am learning things about Grampie, and other relatives no longer with us, that no amount of oral storytelling could ever give me.

What they looked like.

In my application essay to the film program at MCTC, I spoke about how I consider myself, first and foremost, a storyteller. For better or worse, it is what I am called to do, whether through singing, acting, making friends and family laugh…or filmmaking. I was finally drawn to filmmaking because it can encompass all forms of storytelling: visual, oral, and auditory. The only aspect I think it lacks is that of kinetic learning, but I have no doubt that one day we will find a way to utilize that as well. After all, film is only just entering its second century…we have a long way to go.

My mother has in her possession some old reels of film from her child hood. If they were still in Minneapolis, I could take them to school and put them on a projector. As it is, I will have to wait until they can be transferred to DVD and shared more broadly. But when that happens…well, I can’t wait! I am sure there is no sound, but to see the movements of someone you never knew but are so intimately connected with…it is one more reason that I love my chosen medium.

If I ever get a chance to bum around in Maine, living off my parent’s goodwill, I would like to spend some time finding music to put with those old family films. I used to nanny for a family where the father run his own business. He is a musician and he interviews people, and, using old family films and photographs, puts together little Life Story DVDs for their families, complete with original composition accompaniment. He has had clients put these together for loved ones anniversaries, 90th birthday’s, or for their children and grandchildren to have after they pass away.

Anyway, I guess what I am saying is this: it is easy to fall into a place of sadness or regret when we think of loved ones gone before. But, what I would rather do is learn from their lives, and do what I can to ensure my children and their children have the opportunity to learn about my family, past and present.

Below is another photo with Grampie. Although you can’t see me, I’m there. This was taken the summer before I was born. My mother, standing near Grampie on Eagle Island, is pregnant, as is my Aunt Nancy with my cousin Ivory (and that’s Cordeliaknits standing with Nancy).

1 comment:

Auntie Knickers said...

You actually had also spent Christmas with Grampie -- he got you a doll and toy guns for Alexander and Ivory, perhaps you even remember them chasing you around the house! My favorite memory is of when we two were there in October and it was your bedtime, he sang you "Rockabye Your Baby, to a Dixie Melody." Wish I'd had a digital camera with movie/audio back then! That has been the bittersweet part of the whole photo-scan-and-share thing for me -- the pictures that didn't get taken.