The Boy Teacher and the Father Student 54; Love of A Son
I Do Not Get To Be Old
None of this is true it is a figment of the writer’s imagination. It is really an embellishment of a walk around the local park.
The scene is in the Grand Canyon part of the State of Arizona. Most of what occurs is in a place so deep and remote not even a helicopter Air Rescue could help you. The walls too narrow and the terrain so tough. You are on your own there. But not alone. You have your climbing buddies and loyalty born over years that one man would surely give his life for another. The conditions so rough that a rope is necessary for certain places. To go here is not to hike, it is to climb one obstacle after the next on a 7 mile journey to get to “The River”. Climbing comes in two sorts. Aided with the use of stuff like rope. And climbing needing all fours to be efficient and safe.
Powerful men have died within miles of the actual trail. I say trail but there is not one. Nothing improved or clear. Full on backcountry. Fellow climbers may leave Carron’s to help guide the best direction and in return you do the same by stacking rocks upon boulders bigger than your house. Two hundred foot high loose rock climbing is a norm.
Heat in April about a hundred degrees and nights above freezing. This is how I was raised up. Started at 9 and went on from there. My eldest started at seven. My youngest just completed his first at 9.
There is never a cry for help even though it is seriously needed. The buddy/group system works as a unit. No one is outside of the snake as it winds its way up and down. The tail knows the head. So fifty years of this stuff with hopefully no end in sight.
So the group is consisting of two 60 something, 1 forty something, three 30 something and 3 between 9 and 10. Over 240 pounds of gear and food is on backs. The elders started teaching the young 30ish when they were around 7. A ritual passed by generations of men accustomed to such as a way of life. Every turn around every corner could lead to horrific problems for all.
How did the elders survive?
Perhaps We Need To Be Broken To Be Lifted Up
Hero is a State of Grace
There becomes a space that no man or woman can prepare for. Or maybe they can in the sense of getting their affairs in order. “Independent” is a funny word. In the norm it is easy to understand. In areas of the extreme it includes the ability to help others. “Independent is the will to be attuned so well that you can aid others and nature”. Independent is the freedom to risk your life as you choose. Independence is the capacity to so empathize with the world around you that your life must be taken for granted and the helping of others is second nature. Perhaps independence and love and being a hero are all the same. If I work for money, if I love for gain, if I help for my own gratification is that independence? Well at least we work, love and help. No judgment there. So hero means more. It is not graspable. It is inner core and outer love. The trial of live or die, in a very real sense is epic, life changing. This cannot succeed in a vacuum. The cliff must be looked down upon and conquered. The fear must take a back seat to survival. A slip could cost the group not just the injured. Not herd mentality but a love commonality, a blend of heart and soul with others.
Most of us think of old age or cancer as life threatening. Those who stare into the abyss of a reality putting themselves at great risk know life threatening. Just to be there is courageous. But putting others at risk by our own recalcitrance is so wrong it is evil. I committed a sin. But my son grabbed my arm and lifted me. So easy to talk about it in the spiritual. So hard to do it in the reality of life and death.
I Am Surrounded By Them
Drawn By The Hero
Not A Father's Making
Well I took a nasty spill on a sharp Limestone. The shape of an A. Clearly an ugly hematoma and a minor subdural hematoma. Concussion. Meaning a huge bruise to the thigh and a smaller one to the head. Reason for falling was considered a dehydration heat induced lateral balance issue. Heat exhaustion. We got me to a cave like place. Or “they” got me there. Major fluids intake and a state of feet higher than head. Time to leave me there. Sorry but that is the way it goes. Provisions do not allow for two to be trapped. Water is precious for the group.
One hour and two hours pass. The problem subsides. I move cautiously down the slope. Rocks roll under my weight. I make it. Down the canyon a bit further. After a bit a “rape whistle” is blown hard. The response of mine is “Marco” the response of my rescuer is “Polo”. I have been saved by my son. Hugs and electrolyte water is our toast. Tears running down our eyes as we hug.
Ability to move my leg and regain balance has returned for the journey ahead. Miles to go in the dark with headlamps. “Taint a Thing” my son says, “now move it or lose it”. The trek to camp is not an easy one including some rope work. More than three miles in the pitch black including a rope rappelled and some boulder hopping.
Can you even imagine a son putting himself at such personal risk, only to babysit a father whose own error caused the problem? And what would have happened had he not tended to my “problem” to begin with. What was going through his head? Anger we hope. And then the fear of what state he would find me in. What if I receded and was in a comatose. Nothing to do but to watch a father die.
We get into camp late. But heads rise and hugs made. Perhaps it could have turned out much worse.
I do not know about heroic acts. I do not know about one person imbued with the possibility to save another. The other elder reminded me of the time I saved him by ferrying packs for three miles. (First I take yours and then back for mine and then help you climb) I do not even clearly remember. I just cannot remember saving him 20 years ago.
Let us remember not to remember. And yet the rescuer must be remembered by the rescued for ever and carry it forward.
There are no heroic acts. There just are heroes who are ready for the call. Sons to their grandsons are etched. They are created by epic journeys. One man’s toil is a window for another’s transcendence into a state of love and grace. The giving of life is not only from the womb it is a bind of love that lifts another to be more than they can be. No greater love is there than to lay down his life for another.
Peace be to all heroes like housewives and caretakers.