Last Christmas, I received one of the best gifts of my life. My Mom arrived at the house with bags in tow, each one containing several photo albums telling the story of my grandfather’s life.
Growing up as children, our parents tend to pass down the history and traditions of our families. Everyone’s family is different and made up of an incredibly diverse arrangement of relationships. Some of us might have had parents, some maybe not. Maybe grandparents, maybe not. Yet, the family members we do have carry the torch of our past into the future and bestow upon us the stories of where we came from. We can not reflect on what we do not remember and what we are left with will inevitably leave us feeling like there are gaps in our story. Despite the size of the gaps, large or small, we all proceed forward feeling that emptiness.
In my case, I was blessed to have grown up with two parents who loved each other. They both told me stories. Both of their stories had gaps. Both of my grandparents on my Dad’s side were alive, but I had no relationship with them. The only grandparent I really knew growing up was my Mom’s Dad. Donald Wesley Lindgren.
Punka, as I called him, was the rock of that side of the family. He was a galvanizer, someone who brought people together. A helper, a man who actively involved in his different communities. He was a very social person, much like my Mom but charismatic in a gruff kind of way. He was a soldier, an entrepreneur, a photographer, a fisherman, an adventurer, a story teller. I looked up to him tremendously and in many ways I wanted to be like him. In spite of all that, it was the stories that weren’t told that captured much of my imagination and still do to this day.
Again, it was around Christmas time one year, I was 12 maybe, when I saw something that would change my life forever. My Grandpa and Mom had dug up an old 8mm real to real projector out of his closet along with a handful of metal cases housing original film negatives he had captured many years back. For the first time ever, I saw in color, the living image of my grandmothers smiling face projected onto the living room wall of his apartment. To say that that image is eternally burned onto the surface of my mind is a dramatic understatement.
To be continued..