Youth is wasted. Remember that? Youth is wasted on the young, I mean, not that they are just plain wasted. I was thinking about that George Bernard Shaw truism because I have a youth for a son, and his girlfriend is also a youth, whom I also sort of have. They live in Montreal; I live in Toronto. I love them both and watch over them from this distance of decades and a few hundred kilometres. We are only a key-tapping distance apart.
Thinking about them, I sink in and out of envy and sorrow but mostly what I know is an all-round general enthusiasm about their exuberant, energetic lives. Tipping their first can of beans into their first crock-pot of Chili con carne, a recipe gathered from the mothers. Hoping their minds explode with knowledge, evenings at the McGill library and later a pub for a beer with a pal or ten.
When last I blogged I blogged about photographs, referring to myself as a kind of taskmaster, asking the grieving families of my obituary subjects to muck about in boxes and crates of old family photos so I can illustrate the story I write. Pictures to draw readers into the words, emphasizing a poignant or perhaps a comical anecdote.
In my work, I bring people back to life. In a whiff they return to the moulds of their younger selves, puffing up their lives with promise. Like taking a crayon to a colouring book, I fill in the frame with details of their lives and their work. Notable Canadians earning a nation’s respect.
I’ve been reading John English’s biography of Trudeau. I’m onto the second volume now: Just Watch Me. It’s 1968. Pierre has just dived–literally–into the deep end, charming his people with his kinaesthetic excellence while cruelly commenting on Robert Stanfield’s clumsiness. He was young then, our bachelor philosopher king of Canada.
Like many of the families I badger, I just rooted around in my own stash of photos and found this recent one of my son Toto and his wonderful Sydney, taken in a local Toronto pub on my 52nd birthday in July. I cropped out some of the background and framed the shot. Then I encountered this question from my invisible software photo editor friend: “click or drag over blemish to remove.”
I paused. Peered closer, angling my new bifocals across the screen.