Snapchatting my 107 Year Old, Great-Grandma

I am sending snapchats to a co-worker. I send pictures. I send videos. I probably will get tired of it soon and forget about it. If you don’t know what snapchats are, they are either photos or quick videos that you can easily shoot and send through your phone. You can write text onto the photos, or draw pictures with your finger, but that takes too much time and patience for me. I hate typing on my phone, I miss the buttons that the original cell phones had. You could type without even looking the thing.

Anyway!!! I just click a photo and send, or better yet, I hold down the ‘button’ (that doesn’t exist) and take a short video. I can talk into the camera, and make a quick message to get my point across. Like an instant video-version voicemail. It is a very convenient way to communicate. (As if we needed more of that!)

So what is different and blog-worthy about this ‘snapchat’ thing? Well, when you send a picture or video, it is only visible for a short time period. It disappears fairly quickly. Yes, I know that somehow you can take screenshots, or even retrieve these images or videos from a hidden folder, if you want to take the time to do so. Most people never will. And I am not sending inappropriate materials anyway…

Or am I?

See, the fun thing about knowing that your photo or video is only visible for a tiny fininte amount of time, is that the impermanence is freeing. I have found myself sending stupid, random thoughts and quirky moments in time through this platform. I send videos of myself eating a salad, or speaking in squeaky voices, or singing along with the car radio.

Anyway, it’s kind of like when you play with a puppet. You can add extra personality or say outrageous things, because it is a little moment apart from your ‘real self’…

Or is it??

Maybe my being goofy on snapchat is a new outlet, another way to express myself, in my own ‘weird’ ways. Maybe I really want to be that crazy all the time, and I’m usually too scared to. I do really get a kick out of the reaction when Alyssa (a waitress and goofy Mom herself) tells me that my snaps make her and her husband laugh.

Maybe I want to be a performer, a comedian or something, and this is my tiny way to pretend to do that. Just like this blog, I like these little outlets to release the ‘stuff’ that I usually don’t, in my everyday interactions with the normal world.

I am disappointed in myself sometimes, that when you meet me on the street, or in the restaurant or even at church on Sundays, that I am not as expressive and passionate and driven, as I may seem to be with these typed out words on screen. A double-life, in a way that isn’t productive, I can tell myself, I am living.

Yes, these writing moments, or my silly snappy-chats are me, being me. Yes, my ho-hum, hows-the-weather-ness of everyday life do all come from the same place. One seems to brighten and ignite my flame, the other seems to cover and sometimes extinguish it, to a tiny ember.

I am hardly ever as evangelical in real life, as I am on this blog. I am hardly ever as vocal about the deeper questions, person to person, as I am fingers to keyboard. Just like a puppeteer or actor or newpaper comic illustrator, colorful parts of me can be released on ‘stage’ and then I go back to boring afterward.

Maybe the balance is good. Maybe I could just be contented that at least I have gone this far, said this much, here on this digital ‘page’. Maybe this is practice, for another Act, to play out later on. Maybe it’s a time-capsule that will last 35 years into the future, or longer, for someone to come across and appreciate.

This week, I was given a DVD disc. Just like millions of other pieces of silvery round plastic, it has video on it. Unlike any other I have ever obtained before, it had moving pictures of a man I never really knew. It was lovingly made by our extended family. The old Herrod home movies, from the late 70’s and early 80’s, have made it all the way to 2014. They contain fuzzy and silent, but brilliant footage. My Dad is on there. My Mom too. My grandparents and great grandparents, aunts and uncles, babies, my cousins all smile and laugh. They go fishing, they open presents, they eat wonderful dinners you can almost taste.

My mom tries on a dress, while I am incubating along in her belly. My Dad, holds me up at the dinner table. I am spun upside down, and at the very last second end of the clip, he pretends to drop me onto the floor. Wow.

Thanks to Everyone involved in recording, storing and now converting, these ancient video moments. I have never seen a video of my Dad until this week. As it’s been 31 years since he’s passed-on, I couldn’t still remember his walk, his widening smile. The way his eyes carry and contain the moment, entrancing they were, even on this grainy old dead-quiet film.

I used my snapchat video camera to grab a few of these little clips. I am bummed that they show up sideways here. I really wanted to fill this blog page with great scenes for you to see too.

Funny idn’t it. The old technology was wonderful, yet it’s the new, that helps us see the old. I just can’t help but wonder though, about the kind of ‘snaps’ that would have come from my Dad, from my great grandparents Letha and Marshall Churchbaugh, or even my very young and pretty Momma, as she was about to give birth for the first time. I wonder what their inner worlds were like. I wonder what thoughts crossed their minds and what shape they saw this thing called ‘Life’.

As wonderful as these images and video are, I still know that they are only part of the story. They show us smiles and serene family moments. Life is made up, of so much more that just that. I am so grateful for every instant of this old film. I someday hopefully will re-meet these characters, knowing them in the deepest ways. Understanding the place where I come from, where we all come from. I want to know the humanity through which I came to this place called Earth.

Today, I know so much more than I did, even a week ago. Thanks again to the Herrod family, for putting together these videos. Thanks to Alyssa for being my friend on Snapchat and watching my silly silly silllllleeeeyyyyyy-nesss on there each day 🙂

Take care and until next week, let yourself be the real you. Let it out for the world to see. Record it even. By word, or image, do something that makes your mark, in way that someone else may appreciate you, even from afar. Sharing is important. I need to remind myself of that every day 🙂


Aaron Nichols

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