A Diver's Daughter

 

My grandfather was a genius.  There wasn't anything he couldn't create or build.  He made a living as an engineer at Cornell University in Upstate NY.  Though his real passion was adventure.  He was a scuba diver and growing up around him was like having our very own Jacque Cousteau.  

As a young boy I remember sitting in his boat (nicknamed "bottom time") with my grandmother as my grandfather dove below the boat.  I would follow his trail of bubbles and wonder what shipwrecks he saw and what fish he encountered.  I'd help him back on the boat after his dive, grabbing his flippers or whatever else I could manage.  He'd share his stories with my grandmother and I over lunch, a cold beer, and a Yoohoo chocolate drink for me.

In the early 90's my grandfather took his engineering mind and his passion for scuba diving and began building underwater video housings.  He had a workshop in his basement.  This wasn't your typically hammer and nails workshop.  There were huge lathe machines, giant drills, architectural drawing boards,  it was incredible.  We would test out his housings in the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario.  Still working at Cornell, most of the testing was done on weekends and vacation time.  That was fine by me because the 5th grade took up most of my week anyways.

The Housings worked remarkably well.  They began evolving after each and every dive.  If there was some sort of service defect, it was addressed the following week and retested the following weekend.  What started out a PVC pipe and plexiglass grew into custom molds, push button controls and elaborate lighting systems.  Soon after my grandfather was selling  his housings to friends and fellow divers he met on dive trips and at scuba club meetings.  What started out a hobby quickly was becoming a full blown business.  He had dozens of models, a R.O.V.E.R. (Remote operated Vehicle), head cams for spear fisherman, drop cams used by police departments, whatever his mind could think of, he created.  I will never forget the day he told me that the US NAVY had just called and ordered 6 of his housings!  At this point there really was nothing like his product on the marketplace.  He was the original GoPro.  But he never did it for the money, he was just doing what he loved and that's what I admire most of him.  His engineering was his artwork.

My mother is the same way except the canvas is her artwork.  She was born with a talent and her artwork is what she was born to do.  She is very different from my grandfather yet so much alike.  My grandfather is an engineer, My Mother an Artist.  He is a left sided thinker, her a right sided thinker.  His favorite song "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles, her favorite song "Magic Carpet Ride" by The Steve Miller Band.  Yet, they both encouraged and supported one another.  My grandfathers talents captured beauty on camera, my mothers talents capture beauty on a canvas.

They both had a shared passion: The Ocean. My grandfather passed away in 2015.  The name of his company was "Ocean Images".  Today, as I look at my mother's paintings I can't help but to see my grandfather's adventures in each of them.  When I go to Florida to visit her I will sit in her studio, much like I did on my grandfathers boat, asking about what adventures she saw.  This time though, I get the beer, my kids get the Yoohoo.