By Thee I have been sustained from my birth; Thou art He who took me from my mother’s womb; my praise is continually of Thee.
Psalm 71:6 (NASB)
Grandpa Smith was the man with the movie camera. Back in the day before iphone and android, even before VHS there were 16mm and 8mm film cameras. Grandpa had both! He was the family historian and went very few places without those cameras. All of we cousins loved to be in the reach of that camera lens. When the films were developed we were all anxious to see who got the most screen time.
As grandpa got older and we all grew up, got married and had kids of our own the films made their way in to a plastic storage bin in the garage. In 2003 grandpa went to be with Jesus and all of his earthly possessions were divided between whomever wanted them. In all of the shock of him being gone I never gave those film treasures another thought.
One day I was on the Costco website and I saw the advertisement to have your old films and videotapes made in to DVDs. My sister had become the family historian at that time and was “on it” taking advantage of that technology. I caught my breath and said “grandpa’s movies”! Not knowing whatever happened to them I began to call around the family. I do not recall how the communication broke down but I never got a good answer so we all thought they were stollen or lost. My grandpa’s garage had been vandalized at one point so my thought was that the perps took the bin not realizing that what they had taken was worth a million dollars to the Smith family.
Many years passed and I was over at my sister’s one day. I was waxing philosophical about how I wish we still had grandpa’s movies and how we could have them made in to DVDs. I was willing to take that project on if only they hadn’t been stolen. She walked over to the buffet in her dining room, pulled the drawer out and said “you mean these?” I had a fit! There they were all 25 of them.
As she pulled them out one by one tears welled in my eyes as I saw the titles written in grandpa’s familiar script. Titles like NYC 1952 Niagra Falls, Grandkids at various times, Sid & Kris wedding, mom & dad 65th wedding anniversary, Tim’s baseball playoff and Palm Springs flooded my mind with memories. I could not wait to begin the transformation of these priceless gems from film reel to my DVD player. Apparently when grandpa moved from Lake Morena Village to El Cajon my sister rescued the bin that had inadvertently been marked for trash. She stored them in her garage and as time went by she had forgotten I was looking for them.
I brought the films home and looked lovingly at each one trying to decide which one would be first. I had never tried this Costco service and just wanted to start small. After I found out it would cost almost $60 per film I knew this would be a slow process.
The first film was processed and ready to view. Bringing it home I couldn’t wait to see the finished product. My goodness it was rough viewing. We are so used to beautiful clear pictures. These were shaky, grainy, silent and I was in love. There was my feisty redheaded grandma looking fashionable as usual. I had forgotten that she had a gap in her front teeth. Auntie Pam was about 9 years old and they were in New York City visiting my Aunt Iva Rhea and Uncle Bob Elliott. Uncle Bob played baseball for the New York Giants in 1952 and this film was a moving picture album of that trip.
There they were on the Staten Island Ferry going over to see Lady Liberty, walking down 5th Avenue looking a lot classier then Carrie Bradshaw and her 3 comrades ever could, picnicking in Central Park, standing in front of Niagra Falls and lots of footage of Uncle Bob playing baseball.
At the very end of the film there was a short break then I saw a man walking out of a house holding what looked like a newborn baby dressed in a sweet white outfit and bonnet. He was smiling from ear to ear. Following behind him was my grandma then out comes this beautiful Elizabeth Taylor looking young woman wearing a pencil skirt, short sleeved sweater and a scarf pinned to her black hair. She looked to be about 17. I put my hand up to my mouth and gasped as I realized that baby was me and those were my teenage parents! My dad looked down at me and I loving looked up at him. Prying my hand from my mouth I said “that little girl loves her daddy.” Tears streamed down my face. Next thing I see is my parents exchange a loving look and then mom looks in to the camera and says “that’s my baby.” The end.
I sat there in stunned silence. A feeling came over me of profound gratitude to an almighty God who let me see this love between my parents. When I was 6 my dad left my mom. It is a long story from there with redemption as the theme. God had me in His hand my entire life. This verse shot through my mind as I reflected on what He had just done for me at that very moment. God had sustained me from my birth, took me from my teenage mother’s womb, made a way for me to know Him and grow in His love. He showed me proof of what I always thought I knew but really didn’t. In that moment captured on film for posterity I saw a dad, a mom and a baby all very much in love. My life came at me like a rushing river. Overwhelmed with gratitude I could not stop saying “thank you God.” I must have watched that brief segment 20 times crying afresh at each viewing. To know that God knew I needed to see that specific piece of history at that precise moment amazed me.
My praise was and ever will be continually of God. He knew me then and knows me now. King David knew that when he wrote the Psalm. God knows when we need to be reassured of His love for us, even when we are 63 years old! I will never forget the look in that little baby girl’s eyes as she looked up at her big strong daddy holding her as he was smiling from ear to ear. That look is still in my eyes as I gaze at my big strong heavenly Father knowing He is holding me, smiling from ear to ear. He has always had me dear friend. He has always had you too. His love never fails. ️