My grandparents came over tonight for dinner. My mom and I asked them to dig up their old home movies (they go from 1950 to around 1980) and bring them over because I'd never seen them. I was pretty excited; I'm crazy about any opportunity for family nostaligia, not to mention any opportunity to laugh at my mom.
We had some technical difficulties. My grandpa still has his forty-year-old film projector and screen, so we set those up. But, my grandpa's getting older now and it took him awhile to remember how to thread the film and run the motor the right direction and focus the lens. We try our best to let my grandpa do his thing, because the poor guy is in a family dominated by women. He and my grandma had three girls, and now he has three grandaughters, only one of whom is married. My cousin and I decided when we were kids that we had to have boys, for the sake of the family.
My grandpa used to do aircraft maintenance for Raytheon and is a natural with anything mechanical. When I used to visit home during college the first questions would always be, "How's your car running? Are you driving it on the freeway once a week?" He's the quintessential handy-man, and now that my granparents sold their house and live in an apartment, he comes by our house a couple times a week to chop firewood and do other things that keep his hands busy.
But, like I said, he's getting older. So we watched him fiddle around with the projector for awhile. Not quite remembering which way the "fwd/still/rvrse" switch needs to be set. Then, on cue, my grandma (who is one of the nicest people on earth, but gets irratated much more by this since she's lived with him for nearly 70 years) says, "Frank, what are you doing? The girls don't have all night." "Well, I'm trying to put the film in! The motor isn't running the right way..." Then, on my cue, I intervene and try to help my grandpa without him realizing that I'm helping him.
Eventually we got the film threaded, but the image wouldn't seem to focus. We were trying to watch this adorable film of Christmas in 1956, but my grandpa wouldn't stop trying to focus it. He's turning this and twisting that. The film catches on the second wheel and we have to stop and untwist it. Back on, and we're starting to get dizzy by the fuzzy/less-fuzzy/more-fuzzy/focused/back-to-fuzzy that my grandpa was doing. Finally we realize that the lenses in the projector were warped, because the left half of the screen would focus perfectly but the right never did. We tried another film, and that one snapped. Yikes. We tried a third, which wasn't labeled and turned out to be fifteen of random Disneyland footage with no family members in view and no fast foward button to be found, and my grandpa was convinced he could focus it, so he never ended the eye-wrenching blurring in and out.
I feel so bad for my grandpa, because he really felt like he failed. I think it really gets to him when he can't do the same things that he used to be able to do. Like, the part of the machine where you stick the film in is a really small space, and he couldn't quite get his now arthritic fingers to guide it in. When people get frustrated with him and try to intervene, he just feels useless, you can see it. It kills me. But at the same time, he will literally do something for hours without asking for help, even when everyone is waiting on him, so sometimes we have to intervene, but it takes finesse. I did my best to convince him we had to stop because the projector lenses were the problem, so we'd need to rent one and do it tomorrow. But, if the lenses were warped, that means my grandpa didn't upkeep it as well as he should have. At least, that's what he thinks, so it's kind of no-win.
I love my grandpa so much...and I know he focuses on the handy-man/mechanic stuff because that's what he "does," that's his thing, so if he can't fix our broken doorknob, then he thinks, what good am I? Which is so ridiculous, but I get it. I also think he likes to take care of "his girls" (which is just a little funny, since we are a family of seriously tough women). Of course, it's mostly because of him that I was the only one in my dorm with a tool kit that I used (and was borrowed) numerous times, and that I could fix something simple like my broken screen door in Ohio, when my roommates wanted to call our maintenance man.
So, maybe I should tell him that? I'm extremely tired, so I hope this made a little bit of sense. We're going for Round 2 on the home videos tomorrow; I'll let you know how it goes. I'm also dying to photoblog, I got some great family pics tonight, but that will have to wait until next week.