The NUT doesn’t fall too far from the tree

My eFriend San Diego Momma Deb recently wrote an interesting post about her father. She proudly described his many virtues, and her feelings about her perceptions of his shortcomings. It sounded right to me. I think we all want to be proud of our parents, and when we are very young, it is easy to be so. But then we grow up and things change. We see their human imperfections. We become disappointed and get hurt in one way or another, either in actuality or in imagination. Even later, we see that we aren’t so perfect ourselves, and slowly we accept our parents the way they are. If we are spiritual enough, we get to the point of being grateful for it all, the good and the bad. After all, they are at the root of our very existence, so we owe them everything.

One of my fears about all of this is that, although I love my father, I don’t want to turn into him. As a physician, I might understand genetics better than most. I know that many of our thoughts, feelings and behavior are driven by genetic scripts that are more powerful than we generally believe. Add to that the effect of their parental influence when we are young. We model their everything. That leaves less and less room for what we want to believe, that we are sovereign, independent, driven by our own free will. These points are driven home to me when I see not only the physical resemblances to my parents, but also to their mannerisms, emotional makeup, and such. Sure, there are differences. Some of my values clash with theirs. After all, there is the natural rebellion against our parents that is typical of the adolescent transition into our own adulthood, and often results in conflicting views of the world. And we are children of a different time and history. But still…

Well, all of this is much more serious than what I set out to write in the first place. I just don’t want to turn into my father, that’s all. I want to be me. Unique, individual me. So how do I explain my life-long fascination with photography? Let me go back in time a bit.

My father’s father was born at the end of the 1800’s. His having a camera was a remarkable thing. Picture the big boxes covered by a black cloth. Picture glass slides with photo emulsion to capture the effects of light. Picture little gizmos that metered light, something that had to be done before each and every shot, to determine the shutter speed and aperture settings in order to not waste the precious and time consuming products and process. Picture the developments in the camera, the best coming out of Germany. I can remember him hunched over his Rollei, framing his picture on the upside down/inverted image in the large but dim glass viewfinder at the top of the camera. And I can remember his darkroom, where he developed his own film.

Flash forward to my father. For some reason, he felt compelled to also have his own darkroom. He built one in every home he has ever owned, except for the retirement home they just moved into a few years ago. Mind you, my father was a workaholic and rarely, if ever, used any of these darkrooms. He also had a plethora of cameras, lenses, photography gadgets, books, boxes of slides (the oldest are made of a tin like metal), lighting systems, projectors, screens, etc, etc, etc.

So it is not surprising that I had my first camera when I was 8 or 9 years old. I can vividly remember my Kodak Brownie.

It was very simple to use, without the need to adjust settings. You just needed to know that the outdoor light was sufficient, but not too bright. Rolls were easy to install. It had a tiny little viewfinder on the top for portrait shots, and a separate one on the side for landscape shots. It also had a separate flash attachment, a big bulky thing with a huge tin bowl into which you inserted separate one-use-only bulbs. They went off with a cool pop, sometimes a little smoke with a unique odor I can still remember, and sometimes they were a total dud.

I, too, have had a long series of cameras over the years. I totally understand the relationship of light and film, shutter speed/aperture/depth of field, contrast, white balance, etc. I have developed black and white film in a darkroom, and now I use computers for post-processing digital images. I feel a warm, comfortable feeling about cameras. I drool over the latest and greatest. Why? Why do I do this?

My life’s work and life in general have kept me busy doing other things, but more recently my interest in photography has been reborn. It coincided with Gail’s interest in birding. Those two hobbies are a match made in heaven.

So, I think I’m turning into my father and grandfather, sharing their inherited or transmitted values. Maybe I’m not as unique as I think I am. But I’ll at least put my own stamp on it, using the technologies of my own time.

I’m grateful for what I have been given by my parents. I’m proud of them. They’re not perfect. Neither am I. I’m more like them than what I ever expected. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing! A great thing! 🙂

12 thoughts on “The NUT doesn’t fall too far from the tree”

  1. Ferd, this is a lovely post about your dad. I read Deb's post on her father as well. It is comforting to be surrounded by family that have integrity.

    I always feared becoming my mother. I do see beyond her flaws now and am thankful that I am intelligent enough to understand her life. Inherent traits, I cherish because they link me to my family. My great grandmother was a music teacher. Though I never knew her, I have some of her tendencies toward music and art. I like seeing that connection to family.

    Your Mom and Dad are so cute. You are lucky to still have your parents. I like your take on this post especially the twist that you add to your own talents.

  2. Yep, I'm very much like my parents as well. Love them bunches and they don't stay around long enough in my opinion. I sure miss them.

    Have a terrific day Ferd. Big hug to you both. 🙂

    1. Thank you, Deb! And you know how much your writing knocks me out!

      The "good man" thing is a work in continuous process.

      And I'm glad you think I look more like my mom. I like to think so, too, because she was always beautiful and he's… well… not so much. LOL

      This is my favorite picture of my parents. They look so happy!

  3. Your story is so lovely… beautifully crafted, like a fairy tale with a happy ending.

    I'm still pretty sure I was adopted, but no one has admitted it yet. I long for a "camera story" of my own that would make a connection…

Leave a comment :-)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.