I lift photos from my father.
Even in our toddler years my siblings and I were accustomed to having a father in the background with a camera in hand. Over the years we grew fond of his candid shots. Turns out each of are good at pouting when we thought no one could see us. We grew up and became parents to a new generation of closet-pouters. Somewhere in the mix of time Dad put his camera away.
What I don’t want to dwell on is the aging process and how we quit involving ourselves with a world which once beckoned us to come outside and play, to come outside and participate in what makes the world spin. I’d rather write about the way my parents are today — rising every morning to take long walks along the river or along some new pond they’ve discovered since they adopted a dog to take care of, and since my father got back into photography. How did that come to be?
One day the internet showed up in our parents’ home. My siblings and I started emailing photos to our parents. Grasshopperish photos sent to the master. Dad would write back to ask what sort of camera did we use, what F stop. We had (have) so much to learn. We kept sending photos.
Came the day he roused himself, bought a digital camera and started emailing photos back. At first they were often taken from his living room chair, at 4 A. M. Sometimes the subject line would read: photo of the morning light on the living room wall.
Sometimes the subject line would be: sunrise through the etched rose window.
In any given day (with each day given to us), I hear from writers and artists who fear they’ve started writing and painting too late in life. I open my email and find a new photo from my father. We are celebrating his 80th birthday soon. My mother still runs circles around her children, such is her energy.
I think about poets like Gerald Stern
and Marie Ponsot
who started writing around the time of life my father started sending us photos of the light playing on his living room wall. Like Stern and Ponsot, came the day he opened his front door, stepped outside for a walk. A long walk with his camera.