I set myself to the task of copying family VHS tapes to DVD’s recently. My in-laws had asked if we had any tapes of my late husband that I could copy onto DVD’s for them. I knew we had some, and so scrounged them up and reviewed them. My husband had a few from when he was in the Marine Corps; on a West Pac float, at Camp Pendleton, etc. Most of them where tapes that consisted of him doing the filming of his Marine Corps brothers – with lots of mugging for the camera, and sometimes a crude remark or gesture. Harmless fun, never intended to be seen by a wife or mother.
I sifted through the tapes and selected two to be copied that showed the most footage of my late husband. There will be others to copy as well, but I started with these two for now.
One tape that I chose not to copy was one that was almost entirely of me. Well, they had asked for footage of my husband, so they wouldn’t be interested in this one anyway, right. 🙂
Most of it was taped in Oregon, when we were dating and he had come to visit over Christmas with me and my parents. We had gone out for a drive so I could show him where I had grown up. As we were going around to various places near my house, he had been videotaping me as I was driving. Then we stopped at the old cemetery on hill near my family’s house. It overlooks our farm, and you can see for miles in every direction when you are up on this hill. He would get a good panoramic view of the area, then turn and catch me on the tape – much to my dismay and amid my protests.
I looked at myself on the TV screen, as I looked 25 years ago, and saw myself with fresh eyes. And with a little effort, I could see past the initial feeling of “my hair looks awful, did I ever really think that style looked good,” and “my nose is too big,” etc. I began to actually start to think, “Hey, I don’t look so bad,” and “I am actually kinda pretty.” I was able to see myself more as my husband saw me, instead of how I usually see myself – with all the flaws (real and imagined) on display. Seeing myself on that tape helped me to see a little of what he had seen in me all those years ago.
And I felt a little better about myself. The years have mellowed me a little, and I was able to accept the beauty that he saw and that I have refused to see all these years. And acceptance is a little easier now.