RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: February 2016

My Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Actually, make that four minutes and thiry-two seconds.

I was surprised a few days ago when my daughter-in-law told me that a video we made in the spring of 2013 had been posted to Facebook by Military Family Services. I had completely forgotten about it. Suddenly, there it was out in the public eye. Not that it wasn’t before, since it was released on YouTube two years ago, but attention hadn’t been called to it or the series of videos made for the same project. And I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about it.

Early in 2013, I received an email from the director of the Military Family Support Unit for Europe asking if we would be interested in participating in a special project. A collaboration between the Directorate of Quality of Life and Military Family Services and the Vanier Institute of the Family, this project aimed to educate professionals as to the unique challenges faced by military families in the areas of health care, mental health, education, community and social services. The project is ongoing until 2018. A selection of families from across Canada would be interviewed and filmed to bring real faces and stories to the forefront. Of course, we agreed to participate. How could we not? It touches our lives in so many ways. A few weeks later, I was interviewed by telephone about our experiences as a military family of long duration and we pinpointed a few topics that were of interest to the production team, namely the isolation of a remote posting and the issues we had faced with respect to family over the course of my husband’s career. Shortly after that, the producer/photographer and his assistant arrived in Budapest to film and interview us, to follow us around over the course of several days.

The filming itself was fun. We were asked questions by a crew member who doesn’t appear on camera, nor does her voice make its way into the final video. You hear only our answers. Filming took place at our home, on a walk around the neighbourhood, on the tram, at our gym, at the Central Market of Budapest, and at a local restaurant where we arranged to have a friend join us for lunch. Fortunately, we were blessed with gorgeous warm spring weather, which made it easy for filming. The crew had planned to interview one of our adult sons with respect to the impact of the military lifestyle on his life, but unfortunately, a mutually convenient time was unable to be arranged. Consequently, a good deal of the things we spoke about on film were edited out of the final video. Nonetheless, I feel that we were able to discuss some issues that affect families who serve their country abroad in isolating situations.

 I suppose my unease at having this intimate portrait of a sliver of our life exposed arises from my reticence to discuss those issues with most of our family and friends. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard about how lucky we are to have had such opportunities to live in so many places across Canada and experience a few years in another country, I would be very rich. However, there are drawbacks that most do not even know about or acknowledge if they do. Simple things that we take for granted at home represented a huge hassle abroad. Moving every few years is difficult at best, leaving familiar places for the unknown. Never mind the job of arranging the minutiae of life for the entire family. It was a whole new ball game overseas. People, even those who know us well, don’t necessarily have inside information as we tend to keep much of this private. They see only the good things, the excitement of living in a dynamic foreign city and the travel. Also, we have moved on. We have been back in Canada since the summer of 2014, so this seems ancient history. And yet, there is a constant thread of continuity, as many aspects of life remain the same.
Without further ado, the video vignette is linked below. If you care to, do explore some of the others in the series. They offer an interesting window into the lives of the people serving this country.