Tag Archives: reflection

Father’s Day Reflection

I know, I know… Father’s Day was last week, and while I can say I was being a slacker, and for some small part I was, but I can also say that I was waiting for a good moment to do some reflecting and it’s always a good thing to take some time when considering a reflection. I apologize upfront too if this gets a little sappy; I’ll try to keep it skin-deep.

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

Last year, I was inspired for Veteran’s Day to do something special for my Dad. He enlisted in the Marine Corps from 1968 to 1971 and served in Vietnam. It wasn’t until this past Christmas that I realized what that experience truly meant for him; for the first time in my life, he opened up about his experience overseas to me and it was a moment I’ll never forget. For as long as I can remember, it was an unwritten rule in our house to not talk about Vietnam and Dad’s time in the service. It wasn’t that it was a touchy subject, but just something that you didn’t bring up as there wasn’t much Dad would say.

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

As a kid, you have certain perceptions of your parents especially their indestructibility and their lack of fear. Well, as older children find out at some point, that isn’t true; parents are just taught to be strong and hide their fear from their children.¬†For one of the first times I can remember, Dad admitted to being terrified as a soldier, which was a hard thing for him to divulge, but it added a layer of humanity to the man I had known for 27 years now that was never there before.

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!

Before my Mom headed to the southeast, she borrowed some old photos from our family collection of Dad in Vietnam. I decided to try my hand at restoring the photos – clean up dust and scratches, remove some noise, fix some blemishes and water damage where needed, etc. I have very little experience doing that type of thing, but with my knowledge of Photoshop and a very good reason for doing what I was doing, I did some high-resolution scans of the images and went to work.

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!

Thankful

I can only imagine what it was like to wake up on that peaceful morning in 1621. The small village of Plymouth, Massachusetts filled with a flurry of activity and wonderful smells as the villagers prepared the first Thanksgiving feast. I can almost imagine the feeling of nervous excitement that ran through the crowd of pioneers when the first Native Americans sat down at the tables along them.

While I wasn’t there myself, I’m pretty sure they didn’t call the feast “Thanksgiving” that first year, but the feeling of gratitude toward whatever force was in the universe that saw them through a good harvest, kept them healthy, and let them live peacefully was still the same as it is today. As with most holidays, I don’t think that we all need a reason to close our eyes, say a little prayer, and say thanks to the universal power or to those around us for everything we have received in our lives, but I’m glad that with all the things going on in our lives, we do have a small reminder to say those thanks.

For me, Thanksgiving is about one thing: family. Sure, the turkey is great (I’m a dark meat fan myself) and I live for green bean casserole and pie, but for as long as I can remember, Thanksgiving was a time for family and still is. And not just our biological family, if such a thing still really exists. To me, this holiday is about appreciating all the people in my life who care for and about me, and I them. Friends, parents, future in-laws, colleagues, aunts, uncles, cousins, and more… they are all pillars that I lean on and the reason I continue doing what I do in my daily life: being the best person I can.

Family

While I normally head to Ohio to spend time with my family, this year that word has taken on a new definition for me. So much has changed in my life… I am now engaged to the most beautiful girl in the world, we close on our first home at the end of December, and my Mom, an Illinois native for most of her life, has pulled up roots and moved to North Carolina.

While the definition of “family” might change from year to year, the meaning of the word is still the same in my head and my heart. So, to all of you that I know all too well, and you know who you are, thank you for everything. Keep on keeping on. Love you all.

iTears

iSad (Apple Logo)I know there are thousands of posts, tweets, and memorials being passed around today, but I had to take a few minutes to add my own thoughts to the void. For me personally, I will always remember sitting on the couch, enjoying an episode of “Modern Family” with the fiancee when she turned to me and said, “Steve Jobs is dead?”

For the average person around the world, the loss of Steve Jobs was just another moment. For the computer geeks around the world, we lost our Pope. While I know some might have an issue with comparing technology with religion, but in this case, I have no problem using the comparison.

While I obviously didn’t know Steve Jobs personally, I won’t lie… I shed some tears in his honor. Why? Simply put, the job that I do every day, the technology that I use, my fascination with computers and digital media, the world as we currently know it… it would not exist without Steve Jobs.

The person that I am, the geek that I love being… Steve is part of the reason. As a musician, I haven’t gone anywhere in the past decade without my iPod, my very first computer, which sparked my fascination and eventually led to earning my bachelor’s degree in Multimedia, was an Apple IIe, and the first and only smartphone that I will use is an iPhone.

So, from one computer geek here on Earth to another one who is surely attending the great LAN party in the sky, Steve… thank you.