Unlike Myspace; I think it is safe to say that Facebook isn’t going anywhere. The advent of this previously unprecedented way to stay in touch has made a huge impact on many parts of our society, for better or worse.
When I started my account I did so for my dad. My partner and I were about to embark on our trip cross country and it seemed to be a good way to stay in touch and share our experiences with people back home. By posting pictures from the day’s adventures my dad could be reassured that I was indeed alive- without nightly phone calls. Even better than that, he could see what we were up to.
For the last four years of his life we communicated almost daily through pictures and captions. We tagged each other in pictures and had heated debates over who’s puppy was cutest. It was a way to be involved from thousands of miles away. Sometimes it made me ache to see all that I was missing but all in all, it offered an avenue for us to still be a daily part of each others’ lives.
When my dad passed his Facebook profile took on a whole new meaning. The day before he died he posted:
“I guess I am thankful for the things to come”-DG, Nov. 28th
As news of his death spread his page was FLOODED with pictures and stories from friends near and far. People posted old pictures and favorite memories. For the couple days before I was able to fly home, I was awestruck at the outpouring of love and grief that filled his timeline.
It made everything better and worse at the same time.
After the memorial my family debated taking his page down but decided to leave as it was. It has become a place where his friends check in, share newly found pictures and reminisce. It is still one of the only places left on this earth where I can see my dad. Sometimes it is hard to look at and sometimes; there is nothing more comforting.
Recently I found another completely unexpected use for the page.
The boys are always asking for me to tell them stories. Stories of California and of Grandpa Wiseman. The other night I was totally out of new material and looking for inspiration I went through some of his albums.
There I rediscovered this treasure trove of tales, told by the man himself. He was an avid photographer and Californian wanderer. Now, I didn’t just have to tell them about places he loved; I could show them. Complete with captions he wrote.
I could show them all the weird stuff he used to make. Like this scale model of a “Zombie Ops Outpost.”
He was always welding things for people. This custom brand for the Clampers.
Or this huge frame; made for a very good friend. It sits on top of their property in Big Sur (one of his favorite spots in the world) and frames the setting sun.
It meant they didn’t have to take my word for all the silly things he was prone to do. I had photographic evidence.
As well as an explanation for why I am such an odd ball.
I thought everyone picked statue noses.
It let them see me through his eyes.
And gave them a little glimpse of what it was like for me to have him as a father.
It is so much easier to show them how much we loved spending time with each other, rather than telling them that “we were close.”
It is a way to keep him alive without sadness. A way to celebrate the great things we loved and shared together. A place where we are still connected and they can get to know him, through his words and pictures.
When I told them the day after he died what had happened; the only thing the little one said was “but I wanted to see him again.” He had not been a daily part of their life and so while they were sad they were not heartbroken (thank god!)
As silly as it is- Facebook lets all his friends “see him again.” Check in and share.
We can look at the places we will never be able to share with him in real life and make plans to visit them someday.
Guided by this strange online map through the backcountry of my dad’s mind; we will find him along the way. Each in our own fashion.
As trite as it is, Facebook has been the asset I never saw coming. But I am growing to believe that life is all about the unexpected bits, that change you forever.