One week ago today, my Granddad turned 88 years old. It was one of those sentimental days when you realize how much you love someone and how precious life is. Grandmom cooked a delicious meal that rivaled any Thanksgiving dinner I’ve ever had, and 20 of us gathered to celebrate the man that has built us rocking chairs, butcher blocks, and cradles, shared his home grown green beans, and given us bigger hugs than anyone else. Ever.
I brought my film camera along with me to document the night. Film just seemed right for this occasion. I wanted something tangible, something that could last forever with out the fear of getting lost on a hard drive or even worse deleted forever. I shot almost an entire 36 exposure roll of film, and finished up the roll with a few portraits of my Mom the next day. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to wind it up and drive to the lab for processing. In my haste, I flipped up the winder and started eagerly turning the dial when all of a sudden I heard a loud snap. I stopped immediately, knowing something was not right. The tension in the dial was gone. I started spinning it again, but nothing was happening. The shot counter wasn’t going down. That familiar sound of film winding into the canister was missing, but I kept winding. Hoping. Praying that the 30 shots of my 88 year old Granddad blowing out his candles were not gone forever. After about 5 minutes of winding and 5 more minutes of staring at the camera feeling completely helpless, I laid down on the couch and went to sleep. At 7:30 pm.
The next morning, I woke up with a brilliant idea. My Mom was heading to Tallahassee (which has a professional lab) that morning, and she could drop my camera off at the lab and ask them to roll what was left of the film and hopefully salvage as many shots as possible. Even if there’s just one, I thought! That afternoon, Mom called me to tell me to check my Dropbox shortly, as the lab was going to scan the images and send me what they could. Shortly after, I received an email telling me to check my Dropbox, as they were able to salvage most of the roll. I screamed! Tears welled up, and my heart was brimming as I saw the 28 grainy and light leaked images. I didn’t lose them! They exist, grain and all. Perfection did not matter. The images are alive. The emotion is real and the memories will stick forever.
Here’s what I saw at Granddad’s 88th birthday party: