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How a Parent's Voice Changes...or Watching Family Videos

On a recent hot, rainy, thunderstorm day where I couldn’t work on COVID activity #1 (the garden); Dillon said he would help me download all the VHS tapes that I had made into video. Collecting the 30 VHS tapes - that were originally Sony 8mm tapes - had been a COVID project early on.

I dropped said tapes off at a tiny brown office in a white concrete office park where the girl at the front desk was younger than any of my kids. She said it would take about a week and then I could download my videos from the site. I smiled and said oh great! And walked out thinking whatever that means.

So here I was with Dillon on his day off, looking at a screen of movies. He started randomly clicking on them and we started to laugh.

Here was Shane eating baby food.

Here was Chris announcing a T-ball play off game when Dils and Shane were on the same team.

Here was Dillon taking a toy away from Shane.

Here was the big brothers teaching Rory to ride a bike by pushing him off down the hill on the driveway.

Here’s the thing you will notice when you are the cinematographer and can’t (luckily) watch yourself age:

You hear your voice.

I used to be really sweet. Then about the time all three boys were walking…running…my voice gets a little louder. A little - not so - sweet.

HEY! Don’t hit him on the head!

GUYS!! Use your words!!

WAIT!!! NO!!! Cut to black screen.

Wow. Things went downhill fast.

And yet, here today, Dillon laughs. He goes backwards and watches a scene over and laughs harder. He points out a certain toy he loved. He remembers the way the family room used to be before furniture - nothing but toys. He names the kids in the Montessori Holiday Sing video.

I start to watch his face instead of the videos. His smile takes up his entire face, his eyes.

“I remember that!” He smiles.

He doesn’t hear the worry in my voice back then, doesn’t feel the weight of the camera in my exhausted Toddler Mom arms, can’t imagine the tightness in my chest when I had parent worries about….anything?

But I think, this is how I remember too. I remember all of us with my cousins, throwing up in the car on the way to Disney World. I remember because we tell the story and laugh. Absolutely no recollection of the hell that must have been for our parents.

I remember my brother’s long hair in the 70s and how cool I thought that was - absolutely no recollection of the tension it probably caused between him and my parents.

In fact, I don’t remember EVER fighting with my brothers. Ha!

To hear Dillon laugh now at family movies, I sit amazed, think: hey! Maybe we did ok.

Peace washes over me like rain. This family, with all its cuts and punches, heartbreaks and happiness made it through some storms.

Sure, heartbreak can come on like thunder - out of nowhere on a once sunny day - clapping loud and rocking you off your feet.

But happiness, too, comes like thunder. Rumbling low and long. Something exciting in the air. Coming in to cool off the heat.


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