Old films offer new perspective

There are times when you wish you could turn the clock back – times when certain moments become engraved in your conscience.

If you’re lucky enough to get a chance to replay those moments, you’re either taken back to the exact time and place where they happened, or if you’re on the outside looking in, you get to see how things were before you were around and maybe see something you never thought was possible.

Such was the case when my family and I watched footage of my dad’s childhood home literally being moved from one street to another. It was recorded on an old movie reel, probably in the 1960s, when the house was purchased. Dad had been telling us about it for weeks before having the footage transferred onto a DVD.

It didn’t take long for my mom to gather everyone in the living room to watch it a few weeks later. At first, I didn’t see the thrill in watching it, but a few minutes in I realized this was a writer’s dream.

Not only did this have the makings of a good story, but it also was a statement about the essence of time itself. There we sat in our modern, newly painted living room, essentially watching a silent film with two people I’ve known my entire life as its stars.

The only difference was that in this story, my dad wasn’t worried about getting a job or paying bills. He was just a kid waving and posing in front of the camera in his flamboyant yellow Hawaiian shirt – and my grandmother was a parent providing for her son.

My older brother and I watched in amazement as large equipment lifted the old, white house from its roots and onto the back of an open-bed truck. Its porch and the matching white banisters reminded me of a house somewhere off in the countryside, where you could sip lemonade and watch the sun go down on a summer’s day.

The camera showed before-and-after shots of the house as well as the property it was on.

My mom, brother and I all chimed in with observations and questions as we watched the 10-minute video unfold. It also caught the attention of about a hundred onlookers who stuck around the entire day watching.

The experience of watching this was surreal. I got to see what my dad and grandmother were like before they took on those roles in my life. Most importantly, I got to see my grandfather, my Dad’s father, who I have only heard stories about. I even got a quick glimpse of my two great-grandmothers who were sitting nearby watching the action.

It reminded me that while nothing lasts forever, you can use time and the memories it creates to your advantage.

Time doesn’t always have to be a scoreboard you’re trying to compete against or a shadow that hovers over you. It can be the very spark that makes you feel alive.

So next time you look down at your watch, don’t count the seconds and minutes that have ticked away. Count the memories you’ve made – and those you have yet to create.

Erin Kelly, 28, was born with cerebral palsy in Korea, and lives in Altoona. She also writes for online publications The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and The Mobility Resource. Email her at