14 September 2011
A shot taken from Brown's gulch, about five miles and three-thousand vertical feet above home across the valley at the outback of our Sahel; there's Guanella pass, Waldorf, Mount Bierstadt, and the Sawtooth Ridge. Waldorf is where my mother's ashes are scattered...
You would have told the world you were sixty, but I would've argued the fact. You were well over four-thousand years old. That fact was established when your eldest grandchild, the only one you ever got to meet, was two. Some parents tell their children lies about Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. I told mine her grandmother was over four-thousand years old. I have a hard time seeing anything wrong with that.
It is a year to the day since we scattered your ashes. Since I read your requiem over your immolated bones. Dad, the man who taught me boys don't cry, wept, and I got some of your ashes on my hiking boots when it was my turn to do some scattering. I left Tibetan prayer flags strung in that tree we'd all picnic under. I didn't think you'd mind, but perhaps it is idiocy or hubris to second-guess the dead.
You didn't get another birthday after the one two years ago, shortly after you found out your only daughter was to be expecting your second grandchild. Whether it's tragedy or mercy you did not live to see your grandson be born is conjecture. The family marked your proceeding birthday upon that mountain spot. I mark it now by spewing words across a spider's web made of cyber, and I don't know if it makes any difference.
From the back of my house, I can see one of the ridge lines that frames Waldorf. Often, I whisper unspoken hellos to you. I am going on walkabout, because that's something I do. I'll be making Moroccan-style chicken for dinner. It'll be a good day.
But, I know at some point, I'll wander out back, whether alone or with companionship, bipedal or quadrupedal, I neither know or care. I'll have a tumbler of whiskey. It's then I'll toast your memory in barely audible words;
Happy non-birthday, Mother...