A few days ago I set about to photoshop some images that were scanned from slides. The color didn’t seem to be balanced correctly in the scan, so I thought I’d practice color correction and more on this photograph of my father taken at my wedding. I rather like the framing — the Father of the Bride wearing a tux and a look rather like the proverbial cat who ate the canary, with stained glass windows as a part of the background. Problems erupted as I attempted to get the color of the tux correct and leave the face a normal, healthy color.
Face nice = tux all to dull. Tux correct = face ruddy, red and unappealing.
Emotions are funny creatures. As I looked seriously at the image, I realized that getting the color of the tux correct was just going to make me face reality. Anger and hatred stormed into the room. I let them stay for a while. I tried to listen to them. I realized that despite the work I have put in to try to heal my relationship with my father (who died nearly 25 years ago) I had never allowed myself to admit how deep the anger and hate went. That ruddy face, made clear in the image unleashed the storm.
I have worked on my feelings about my father — especially after his death over 20 years ago — and I thought I had made progress in healing the relationship. No, I have made progress. However, life is paradox. The more I am able to accept and forgive, the more open I must become to admitting just how painful some things are, and just how deep the effects run.
Cleaning up old photos seems to be akin to cleaning the mirror and seeing the reflection in bright light with more detail than you might want and still learning to love that reflection. It means that it somehow makes sense to be able to say: “Daddy — I hate your guts. Oh, and I love you.”