When I first mentioned the idea:
“No … No …. No … ” Half stammer, half statement; your opposition was far from absolute.
It was very necessary that day, though. There was a lot of snow, and it had been sticking around for a while in the cycle of melting a bit and freezing again and snowing more, building up devious sheets of ice beneath recent powder. As usual, you wanted to go for a walk, even though you barely could, and even though the car was having trouble getting out of the driveway. And, as usual, you always turned and thanked me, with the solemnity of a sacrament, when I said I would come with you.
In retrospect, how we made it up the first incline towards the winding wooded trail and then to the crest of the rain-rutted logging road was nothing short of a miracle. My body was a wedge between yours and the ground with spurts of slapstick as we slid and slipped, and I became an animated parallelogram contorting myself into any and all necessary angles to keep you up, to keep you from falling into humiliation and despair.
When we somehow arrived at the top of the steep hill next to the pond, I said,
“Let’s go back now, Dad.” And you said, as usual, characteristically stubborn in your delusion that you could still stride down an ice-covered logging road,
“Dad, you won’t make it. There is too much snow and ice! You will fall for sure!”
“Whaddya mean?” you glared, disgusted by my lack of faith. “I don’t fall.” You stated your absolute truth from behind the scabbed gash above your left eye and the purple and yellow bruising on your right cheekbone. What is not seen is so conveniently forgotten.
“Anyway, I’m going that way. Come if you want.”
There was no ‘if you want’ possible as I couldn’t leave you lying helpless on the trail. No point in arguing. As always, you never gave up. But now, desperation accompanied your obstinate nature, desperate for your life to be what it had been and stubborn enough to be able to convince yourself that it could, even though your daughter was the brace that literally prevented you from rolling and thudding to the bottom and a rescue team having to be called in to carry you back on a stretcher. Lucky for me, I am your daughter and inherited your determination that allowed this to never happen.
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