Somewhere, there’s a photo of me in silhouette standing on the very last dozen inches of one of the peaks of the Presidential Range, only good wishes and one misstep away from kissing one of those bad boys all around me for as far as the eye could see.
I loved showing the Dad-snapped photo around when I was young, “Look here, am I intrepid or what?” (I certainly hadn’t planned to be, lol, but facts is facts!)
Later, it became a bittersweet photo/memory, as did the days of my being dragged out to high seas in a tiny rowboat with him, to do some fishing away from land entirely.
My mother, even prior to their divorce, had always worried during those times when I was finally living life, that they were perfect opportunities for himself to dispatch-via-tragic-accident someone he’d considered the middle-man between them.
It was nearly impossible to defend him — he had done horrendous things — but I wanted to say (and would’ve, could I have found the unhurtful, unthreatening way to say it), “Sometimes, he has been a father.” I think she (and others) attributed my safe return solely to her frantic prayers being answered in the Affirmative.
But none of them saw his face on that mountain day, or those sea days, or on farm or extended family days. These were the only things he could give me, sometimes delivered with a gasp of his own — both of us overwhelmed by peace and health and beauty for a while. Together. On the precipice of family.