Over the past few years, I’ve found myself looking at holidays as just another day; I’m not saying I don’t respect the purposes of these days, but as long as my parents got a call on their respective days, they were happy and I went about my day not really considering what it means to be a parent. I can’t say I understand completely now and probably won’t until I have children, but this year, for some reason, I find myself thinking more and more about what my Dad has done for me and who he is to me in this life.
Son of a Veteran
I don’t know if it was because Mom had moved out of the house or it was just time for him to share, but I decided to ask Dad why we never talked about it. “You don’t have to tell me. I was just curious,” I said. While he said there wasn’t much to say, we both knew that wasn’t necessarily true. I thought we were moving on to other topics when he started telling me stories and answering questions I had about the experience.the fear o
During that Christmas Eve dinner, he laid it all out for his only son – stories of friends lost, weekend trips around the countryside, the fear that prevails during the last two weeks of being in-country, and the only time he truly felt death was only a step away (a piece of shrapnel, which he still has in a box at home, came within inches of his head).
Needless to say, I knew I had witnessed a moment that could never be repeated and will stick in my brain until it ceases functioning. For a man who has always been a strong, confident, powerful force in my life, I saw a glimpse of his innocence and a time long past when the majority of his life was ahead of him instead of behind.
The Never-Ending Project
These stories inspired me to do something special for my father. I call this the “never-ending project” because I actually started on it over a year ago. I originally intended to put it together for Veteran’s Day, then Christmas, then Memorial Day… I finally finished Father’s Day this year. Wait a minute… what project? I’m glad you asked!
Once the restorations were complete, I had my local print shop do some prints up and I got the thing matted and framed at Hobby Lobby. Hold up a second, Mike! You use Hobby Lobby… and you’re a professional? Umm… yeah! I use a variety of vendors but locally, the good folks at Hobby Lobby are specially trained (have you seen the certificates on the back wall of the framing department?) and the local folks know me and my preferences by heart so it works out overall.
Anyway, the whole thing turned out great for short notice (do you see a pattern forming here?) and I gave it to my Dad on Saturday when he came up to Peoria to visit for a few hours. I was proud of myself; I didn’t choke up, but I think Dad did for a moment and in that moment, I remembered Christmas Eve, as I know he did, and a connection was made between two grown men, father and son, hero and spectator, veteran and thankful American.
I know I’ve rambled a bit and I’m glad you’ve stayed with me. As a reward, enjoy the gallery above that shows the stages of my restorations! I hope to do some more photo restorations in the future and I’ll add some posts on some techniques I use as well so stay tuned for that too!