A mild November morning found me on a dirt road just outside of Redding, California preparing for a most special occasion—the wedding of our son and future daughter in law. In preparation for the festive event and while waiting on my wife to arrive, I bunked at the happy couple’s house, a rural one-bedroom loft located at the end of a winding, dirt road. It was a few days before the wedding when we took our first morning walk.
We quietly left the house and walked down a steep decline, squinting to see past the rays of sunlight beaming through oaks and redwoods as the sun peeked over the horizon. Loose rocks and dirt shifted beneath us for the first hundred feet until the road gave way to a gently rolling, winding stretch. We ambled for another mile before reaching the main boulevard.
We talked a bit. I told him how proud mom and I were of him and everything he had accomplished—we looked forward to witnessing all he had yet to achieve. He thanked us for being great parents—something I’m not sure is entirely accurate.
After reaching the main drag, we headed home. Back up the rolling earthen road, past the Bernese Mountain Dog barking in the yard and the pig who called the entire neighborhood home. We walked in silence most of the time, smelling the evergreens and tasting the dust, occasionally bumping each other with a faux body check. The silence felt normal—no need to fill every minute with conversation—we’d done this hundreds of times.
Soon that first hundred feet of inclined road loomed overhead. We started our ascent, our feet drifting beneath the silted soil and tiny stones.
A few short steps—no more than four or five—and we exchanged a glance. It’s a familiar look, one we both understand. I heard the words in my head, “ready, set, go,” and we both took off for the top of the hill.
We ran full speed, leaving nothing in reserve. His strong, young, lean legs carried him much faster than mine. I watched as he pulled ahead, fighting as hard as I could toward the summit. It was no use. He pushed past the crest a solid twenty seconds ahead of me. We were winded.
“I figured I’d never beat you walking,” he said, showing neither pride nor hubris—it was a footnote.
I smile. I’m proud of him and the man he’s become—loving, humble, generous. He didn’t just win a race up a hill, he proved he’d moved far beyond anything we ever taught him—every parent’s hope.
He is a remarkable man and we couldn’t be more proud of him.
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Unless otherwise noted, I drew or took the photographs in the article—as lame as they may look. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is just plain scary. Copyright can be found here for my original work.