The way I see it

My dad turns 78 today.

That’s him with his laptop.

He bought a laptop a few months back. My parents spend half the year in Illinois and half the year in Wisconsin. He used to haul his tower back and forth, but decided that a laptop would be easier.

He tends to have a slightly newer computer than I do, which makes troubleshooting over the phone challenging. Now, since he has vista and i have XP Pro, we struggle sometimes. However, most of his problems are simple. One of the things we keep trying to figure out is how to sort pictures.

As I was thinking about him today, I realized that he has always had a desire for helping people see things, especially using images.

When he was younger, he was about photography. He spent a couple years in Korea. He carried a Brownie, a basic Kodak camera. On the troop transport on the way over, he was seen taking pictures when he shouldn’t have been. When ordered to throw the camera into the ocean, he complied–sort of. He tossed the case over the side, after pocketing the camera itself.

There aren’t many pictures left from there, on paper anyway. He was wounded by some people he had been investigating. He came back on a plane with a bullet and bandages. He spent the next several months in hospitals.

He also ended up with a clearer focus about what was important. He gave up real estate and architecture and prepared to be a pastor. On the way, he discovered that the only thing you can make men from is boys, and so spent his whole career with an organization that was about training boys. He traveled between churches explaining this organization and explaining God, training men, encouraging them. He eventually moved to headquarters, working to coordinate the staff. He never ended up as the president. I’m not sure he could have changed the world through thousands of men if he had made it to the top. He retired as number two on the organizational chart.

All along, he took pictures. He took the pictures of travels and camp and meetings with one of the series of Pentax SLR cameras he had. (He had build the camp, too, but this post is about his use of technology). He lost one of his camera when someone at a boys conference decided to steal it.

On the way, he figured out slide shows with audio tracks recorded on reel-to-reel tape. Because we couldn’t edit, we had the music playing on a phonograph in the background while reading the scripts. We had stuff for title slides, he shot with timers and telephotos. As we moved from reel to cassette, he followed. He shot 8mm and super 8 and video with a big VHS camera.

He never had much of a budget for stuff. He had to raise his own salary. But he made the most of what he had.

I started my education as a broadcasting major, using some of those same skills. I shifted to rhetoric, the analysis of persuasion, but still am making slide shows, taking pictures, looking for new ways to see.

Dad’s still looking for new ways to see, too. He isn’t nearly as agile with technology as he once was. The stroke a few years back that took away his public speaking ability shortly after he retired also has pushed a right handed man into having to use a mouse left-handed. But dad is still cutting edge.

DSL isn’t easily accessible in their condo, but he’s patient enough to use dialup. Even to read blogs.

Or at least one blog.

So happy birthday dad. There are a bunch of people you will never know who talk about how I help them to see things differently. Thanks for letting me tell them where it comes from.


6 responses to “The way I see it

  1. Pingback: The way I see it : Stroke

  2. Happy Birthday Mr. Swanson and thank you for lending us your son.

  3. I like it. Thanks for sharing him with a world who doesn’t know him like we do.

  4. Happy birthday Jon’s dad!

    Just knowing what I do of your son,
    and through this post
    You’re wonderful!

    I hope you make a birthday wish.

  5. What Rob said–yup.

  6. Ack! I’m a day late, but sincere in my thought. Thank you for all you have done, and all you still do. Thanks for helping shape Jon into the person we love.

    And anybody with a Pentax must be wonderful! 🙂