My Father has always been a funny duck. Sometimes able to annoy the whole family in one fell swoop, which is a talent that anyone should be wary of!
He never seems to be ready for my visits. The bed sheets are never washed, nor is there any food in the refrigerator. There were always more important things to do, I guess?
I admit to not having visited him for quite a while now, but I’d guess, he is the same person that I’ve remembered over these many years.
He’ll probably want to reminisce about the last mountain top we climbed together – Cirque Peak in the High Sierra (3932 meters). Climb might be too grand a word for the walk up to the summit, but the views were grand and the feelings as well! He always told me about how Tortoises always won the race in the end, which explained how his slow gait would surely propel him to the campsite, even though he was the last one of us to do so.
He will also ask about fishing. Do we have any plans for fishing while visiting California? That was his greatest feat, and he was good at it in my eyes. Small creeks were the best, and he almost always managed to pull a trout or two out of the smallest of streams. “There, where the current bubbled around that rock, there is a dark hole, where they are hiding. Throw your line a bit farther upstream and let it float down to that junction. Easy now. No quick movements. Don’t let your shadow fall upon the water. Well? No bites yet? Let’s go downstream and try for a while, but rest assured, we’ll get him in the end.”
Then we’d go downstream or upstream, finally trying the same hole again. His ankles bothered him as he got older, which made him stand in the stream instead of balancing on some slippery rock. The line might have gotten tangled up in a water birch, or around a willow, but he’d just sit down on the shore and untangle things, without a cross word to be heard.
In the end we’ll be eating trout cooked on the stove, most likely wrapped in a bit of foil, perhaps sporting a lemon wedge on the side. Man that really tasted good, out in the Great Basin in California.
As he grew older, the hikes diminished for him, but increased for me. I’d tell him of the sights and sounds on top of numerous peaks, then about my life in Denmark, and how the kids and the wife were getting on. He never told me not to move to Denmark, because we have to follow our hearts, don’t we? He visited Denmark, before we actually moved there, and was able to see, what kind of a country, his son was moving to.
He’ll also be telling me stories. Stories of his life and experiences. He’ll begin by saying, “Have I ever told you about the time, that I…..?” which he probably has, but what the hay? Let’s hear it again anyway. I used to ask him to retell some of my favorite stories, which made him beam from ear to ear. He might have added details that weren’t in the last version, he told, but it didn’t diminish the effect one bit.
“Sorry about those sheets”, he’d begin again. “Let’s do some shopping for dinner”. His refrigerator was empty with the lights on. The lights were on, but no one was home. He had a freezer as well. My wife and I had given it to him, when we still lived in the States, so he could save money by buying in bulk, then freezing the food until he needed it. What was inside? Ice Cream, and nothing else! He preferred his ice cream hard, but that could only be attained if no other food was in the freezer. “Want a bowl of ice cream, before we go shopping?”- My Dad in a nutshell!
He still likes to play the horses, and having a friend in Las Vegas helps him to keep that part of his life on the right track. He’ll also buy a Lottery Ticket, just in case. When he visited us in Nevada, he’d forget that Lottery Tickets weren’t allowed, but casinos were. They tended also to be his downfall. “We’re losers, we’re losers”, he say when we exited the casino. The Dice Tables were not his best friends on that occasion, but maybe next time….
He’s moved, since the last time I’ve seen him. Back to Southern California. I’m sure it suits him, with his family close by him again. His mother and father, sister and brother in-law.
I’m told that I’ll be able to find him under a Pine Tree, which is the only one in the entire cemetery. He was lucky in that respect, and I’ll be sure to ask him, if he remembers the last mountain top we were up on, together. It was Cirque Peak at 12,900 feet. We didn’t use the Metric System back then, but it didn’t matter.
As long as we enjoyed life together…..