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October 2, 2011

Lost Treasures, Home Movies, Memory Lane & a Surprise Visit from Heaven

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/lost_treasures_home_movies_memory_lane_a_surprise_visit_from_heaven_2011100/

Photo

Robert Angel, IDF, 1962

Last week I was looking through some family photos looking for a picture of my dad.  It’s a photograph that was taken in 1962, shortly before my parents met, and for some reason I needed to see it.  It is a great picture and I’ve got it posted with this blog.  My dad was 24 years old.

While looking for the picture I came across a stack of old camcorder tapes. They were not labeled with a subject or date, but I did remember what camera they were from, and I have not used that camcorder for many years. I was curious, so I took them in to be transferred to DVD.

I dropped them off to a place called DVD Your Memories, and waited. I had no idea what would be there and was excited to see what treasures had been uncovered. I never could have imagined however, how great the discovery would be.  I just picked them up, and in looking for my dad, found my dad.

The tapes translated into 6 hours of home movies, which included my son’s birthday parties from age one to five.  It also had movies of my visits to Canada from the time my son was born, to when he was 6.  I watched them from start to finish 3 times, and only stopped to blog.

It was fascinating.  I laughed and cried through every frame.  There was a trip to New York City in July of 2000, where I am with my son at the Statue of Liberty, on top of the Empire State Building, and on the observation deck of the World Trade Center.  It was amazing to look back.

I was watching the birthday parties and then, there he was.  One DVD had my dad, looking straight into the camera, saying, “I love you Ilana”.  My father passed away almost 10 years ago, and hearing his voice, all these years later, both broke and repaired my heart.

To hear him talk was shocking at first.  I did not understand what was happening and I found myself confused.  I started crying and for some reason kept looking around, as if I were going to see him sitting in my living room.  It was a very unsettling experience.

It took me about 20 minutes to gather myself and watch the tapes.  Once I started, I could not stop.  There are hours of my dad and son together. Walking on the beach, playing in the yard, making matzo ball soup.  Listening to my dad tell my son stories about his life was remarkable.

In one scene, my dad is here in LA playing with my son, who is about 2 and a half years old.  They are playing with a ball in the yard and my son is laughing, being chased around by my dad.  He gets tackled by my dad, then gets up and starts walking over to me with the camera.

He looks into the camera and tells me, “I am having the best time Mommy.” He then turns around, runs over to my dad, hugs him, and tells him he is having a great time and he loves him.  He then goes to get the ball, and starts screaming, “Come get me Grandpa Bob!”

I have watched that piece of film 17 times and counting. I think about my dad every day.  I was not with him when he died.  I had seen him about 3 weeks earlier, had a ticket to go home on a Saturday, and he died the Friday before my flight. My heart broke that I was not there.

He was a very special man, full of grace and empathy.  He was funny and smart and I see all of his greatness in my son.  They are very much alike and I take great comfort in that.  My parents have 8 grandchildren, and my father only met 4 of them before he passed away.

My son was 5 when he died, and has great memories of being with his Grandpa Bob.  These tapes are a treasure as they are a way for my son to never forget his Grandpa.  My father was a wonderful dad, but he was a brilliant Grandfather, and he loved my son in a profound way.

My son has been away for the weekend and I can’t wait for him to get home tonight and see the videos. It is going to be emotional for him too, as he loved my dad very much.  I feel like in some way, my dad guided me to look for the picture, so I could find the tapes, and find him.

I spent the weekend with my dad and it was heaven.  It was like having him here with me again, and I loved it.  Hearing his voice is the greatest of gifts and my joy is immeasurable, and trumps my sadness.  I love you very much Dad.  Seeing you again has been truly divine.

My heart is soaring today.  I woke up and immediately went to the computer to hear my dad tell me he loves me.  I hope my father passed away knowing how much we all loved him.  He is forever in my heart and it is his love and belief in me, that allows me to always keep the faith.

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