It’s difficult to mark Father’s Day when the man to whom fatherhood was the most fundamental adult role is no longer here.
My children and I have occupied different venues on such days, first venturing only across the state border for a short mountain hike, and the next year flying across the sea to Northern Ireland, where I remain certain that a heavenly prank was played on me in an effort to get me to smile.
As predicted, today brought torrential rain, a doleful downpour so strong it woke me in the wee hours.
This time, I took a page from Jim and prepared for the Father’s Day deluge by actually consulting the weather predictions and setting out a day early. True to form, I managed to get lost both on my way to my original destination and in the woods where I wandered for hours at my runner-up spot.
On the bright side, being lost in the woods means being less self-conscious about engaging in animated conversation with the departed.
I rushed a picture of a waterfall, then paused and wove a path to a different angle: “You would have waited. You would have gone up here and held still until the sun fell there.” Click.
But eventually practical thoughts can intrude even while wandering among waterfalls on a glorious early summer day.
“I’ve done it again, Jim. How do I get out of here?”
“Oh, I should follow the trail with the horse poop? You’re right: the stable must be nearby….”
After a few hours I found my way out: there was indeed a stable.
I had just a small request for Jim. “Could you send me just one songbird, or a butterfly–a moth would be fine. I’d actually love a moth.”
I stepped out of the woods into bright sun and a path that led to stables. To my right was a pond where a goose basked with his brood. Something brushed by me and settled on the ground. Before taking off it paused several measures, slowly opening and closing its wings with the steadiness of a heartbeat.