I practice a Native Hawaiian active meditation I learned long ago. When someone you love is suffering you can help by having a grand adventure and intentionally sending the vital life force to the one who needs help. It is powerful medicine.
When I began traveling solo Daddy longed to go with me. Growing up my friends called him the Marlboro Man because of his outdoorsman persona, rugged good looks, and obvious membership in the Man’s Man Club. He was definitely someone who loved a wilderness adventure.
Advancing arthritis began to block his path to hike mountains and fish rough rivers. I knew I could send magic mojo home to infuse Daddy, ease the pain, and lift his spirits. What I didn’t realize is how much he was responsible for my growing wilderness skills.
Daddy would start trip planning in the dead of winter to cure our cabin fever. “Trip foreplay” was the best part of any adventure he’d say. He scouted out coordinates of some of his favorite mountain trails and streams, camping spots, even archery ranges. He’d send satellite images and I’d chart the maps first with orange dots that I would later connect at the end of each leg.
He lived vicariously through my trips in mountains, deserts, and rivers. I used his courage to head out on my own and navigate tough spots, trusting that he would find me if I didn’t report in.
Every time I got back on grid I would call and send pictures. He tracked me via satellite and always had specific questions about “that hole in the stream by that stand of oaks” or “the switchback trail to the peak.” He often warned me about tornadoes heading my way on prairie drives. The more details I could give him about the flying trout at dawn in a mountain lake or the razorback hog my dog blocked from my path the more he would belly laugh or quiz me on my marksmanship.
During a bout of vertigo on a fly-fishing trip in Basalt, Colorado he alone knew why I didn’t come home or go to the doctor and he never nagged. Instead he taught me – over the phone – how to fall down a mountain without breaking anything. Soon after I was hiking down a steep, gravel ravine with a guide when a spell hit and I rolled and skied my way through it. “Man you fall like a 30-year-old!” the guide noted. At the time I was 50 and still don’t know if that was meant to be a complement.
Our talent of living vicariously through each other expanded over the 14 years of this particular partnership. I believed in him and he believed in me. He had raised me to hike, hunt, fish, shoot, track, and live in Nature. If he ever worried about me he never mentioned it. Any bravery I had was because of his confidence in me. Our shared stubborn trait forced me to make a way out of some impossible situations just so I wouldn’t have to worry Daddy.
When life as a single mom got me down Daddy pulled out “The Plan” to roam the country full-time in my retirement. He supported every step including my home and lifestyle downsizing to free me to retire early, buy an RV, and expand opportunities. Last winter we began charting my first outback adventures in the teardrop. He didn’t live to see my launch in the spring.
This first Father’s Day without him I look at those orange dots on the map and grief gut kicks. Control urges me to fast forward, avoid the pain, and just connect the orange dots! But control is a dangerous trickster and shortcuts in grief can leave big marks.
For now I lean into my old, honest companions Death and Time. I trust the divine alchemy these two create if I can muster the patience and courage to stay right here, right now.
When my heart soars down a mountain pass drive, or at the pull of “OMG it’s a monster fish!” Daddy is no longer stuck in his rocking chair waiting to hear my stories. His surge of joy feels stronger than my own and I often exclaim “Oh Daddy LOOK!”
If I ever do get in over my head I know I won’t face it alone.
Happy Father’s Day Daddy! Thank you!