Today marks 40 years since you left the world far too soon. You were 55 and I was 15. I climbed to the summit of Indian Head Mountain in the Catskills today to honor you and our relationship, a relationship that continues to this day. It is not a given that death ends the relationship between father and son (or daughter).
You died on a Saturday afternoon and I remember the exact moment because I felt it, physically felt it. I thought about it during the climb today.
The hospital called that morning to tell Mommy you would not make it through the day. I remember being upset and angry with her for not being by your side. She said you were in a coma and wouldn’t know the difference anyway. In retrospect, I don’t think she had the ability to handle the moment. All I know is you should not have died alone, coma or no coma. Anyway, it was around 1:40 in the afternoon when me, Pascal and Bobby decided to walk into Nyack and buy some soda pop. It’s about a 20 minute walk. We were well on our way when all of a sudden the air went out of me. I stopped walking and leaned over, hands on my knees. I knew. I said, “He just died.” Bobby and Pascal looked at me and said, “No, Pete, he’ll be okay. Don’t worry.” We went to the store, bought our soda pop and walked home. I went into the kitchen and Mommy was at the counter preparing food. She turned and said, “Peter, it happened.” You had died. You time of death was 1:53.
The climb today was grueling, but I didn’t care. I was glad to be alive to do it. I summited around 12:40 and put one of your twigs on the summit. When I visit your grave I collect the small branches and twigs that fall from the Oak tree next to you. It dawned on me some years ago that by now your body is part of the soil and thus part of the tree so by having these twigs with me I have you with me. I leave one on every summit.
On the descent I thanked God for giving me an ample ass because when my feet slip out from under me on wet rock and I land on my butt it’s like falling into the arms of a loved one.
I miss you terribly, Daddy. I’d give up the rest of my life in a heartbeat to hug you one more time. In the meantime, I’m doing the best I can. I’m far from perfect as I’m sure you know. But one of the many things that was special about you was you never expected me to be perfect or wanted me to be perfect. All I had to do to be loved by you was be me, be Peter.
I hope we meet again. I hope there is something after this life and if there is, if it doesn’t include being with you again, I’m not interested.
I hope you are safe and happy and loved wherever you are.
Always you son love you his whole wide world,