Super 8 movies have always had a unique allure. They're so beautifully slowed-down and sun-dappled, immediately delivering the blurred warmth that otherwise comes as time soften memories. My family never had a video camera, but we took pictures; the late-'70s light washes everything in tan, and I imagine that's what it must have looked like back then.
When I found out that my dad was terminally ill (odd phrase, that) I kicked myself for not having my video-ready digital camera with me. Since then I have leaped into small puddles of panic, drowning in the possibility that I may someday forget his movement, his laugh, the sound of his voice. I can still see and hear everything if I close my eyes, but what if that changes? What if I forget some nuance of his gestures or tilt his cadence a half-step? I am petrified, heart pounding like a child bolting awake from blood-drenched nightmares, that I will somehow lose my father more than I already have. And if that happens, even if I misremember only a sliver of him, I fail both of us.
On Sunday, Betty brought me his old Nikon. Even though I have no idea how to take pictures with it, it's enough that it was his. It's still attached to the avocado-and-tan camera strap that I remember resting on top of his dark blue sweater in London. Inside, there's film of moments captured years ago, long forgotten and only possibly preserved. Someday, when I'm ready, I will have it processed and be the first to see a sliver of time through his eyes. For now, it sits on top of my dresser, its unfocused lens guarding me while I seek my father in my sleep.