To my family and friends. I referred to him as ‘the old bastard.’ My contempt held strong when he walked this earth decades ago. But I loved him. I learned a lot from him, too. I was a twisted vine of emotions. His sudden death floored me.
I don’t use biting words as I did then. Mind you, they do come up from time to time. Imagination gets the best of me. The stiletto of sadistic pleasure. The pointed tongue, to tender heart. Each can draw blood back on you. The rent gained on a darkened thought can never make up for the amount of light lost, when you love someone.
I was a precocious pretentious young man. In some ways, I still am. Long ago, my father’s swift departure left me standing by the edge of his bed staring at his dresser stacked with dozens of colorful silk neckties, a few overused tobacco pipes that saluted in a pipe stand, and an brass urn heavy with questions. Life examined. That was some forty years ago.
His rapid exit may well have been intentional. His marriage was turbulent. The July thunderstorms in my hometown of Flagstaff, Arizona. My mother, a stunning beauty, was the stoic Queen of Hearts. Her initials, etched in his soul. It was his certain poison. And, he fought back. The clumsy dagger of a backhand remark and the poorly executed strike of the Eagle Claw of a Shaolin Kung Fu green belt, his moves always returned to him six-fold.
Bad blood settles. It will take it’s own path. With time, the bitter berry has an opportunity to sweeten, given influence. The miracle berry of West Africa will unfold the bitter lemon into a sweet delight. The slow path of time can sweeten a sulfurous fruit.
I’m lazy hiker. I’ve always been. You can’t convince me to change my pace. In this life, I haven’t used a map. Unlike my father, I’ve learned to listen to the trail. There are many paths that we each get to walk in life, given the time. The whisper of the wind and the scent of pine will direct you. Randomly followed paths may lead to a dead end. That’s okay. Other paths bring you to a new beginning. And, that’s okay too. Circular paths lead you to where you first started. And sometimes, that’s okay too. Some paths lack true heart, but most don’t. In every path, there is a story. Some hold onto you, some you hide from and a few, you share.
This is one of the few stories I’ll share. I’ve held tightly to this tale for decades. Like bitter blood, a miracle allowed it to sweeten with time. The overlooks on a hike can provide a rich horizon. Decades can ferment the sour berry. Sweetness can arise. And a thorn can reveal a flower.
I wrote this story for my children and grandchildren. It was also written for my friends and to those folks who I will someday meet.There is always hope beyond loss. The storm cannot last forever, and if the path leads you to a dead end, there is no shame in simply starting over.
In this book, I have mentioned people, places and things. Just so you are fully aware, all of these are real and the events are true, but many are lies. Dig and discover. This is my gift for you. Enjoy the hunt.
(c) 2017, Ron McFarland