The Woman on the Mountain Top
This story is in reply to a challenge by billybuc to write about the picture he took (the last picture in this story). Bill has been my sensei and the inspiration of many. Answering his challenge is a privilege and I know this story is only one of many.
He loved the mountains. From the time he was a little boy he loved looking at the majesty of the mountains rising out of a flat earth. He loved the way the sun would shine on a mountain and make it look different every day. When he was a child he would climb the mountains, using the paths of course, with his brothers and his parents. What fun they had trying to out race each other. Hours of being outdoors and seeing the beauty of nature around them. Once they saw a rabbit running past, another time they spotted a deer off in the distance.
His dream was to see the highest mountain peak in North America. He wanted to go to Mt. McKinley so badly to see "the Great One". A marvel always covered in snow. A mountain beyond what he'd seen so far. He'd seen its beauty on television and in magazines. He longed to see it just once in person.
The view from the plane
He and his wife finally did make a trip to Alaska. He loved sitting by the window on the plane ride and seeing the granduer they were there to see before they landed.
He basked in the glory of all the mountains. Mt. McKinley took his breath away. A sight he would never forget. The sun made the snow shine so that the mountain looked like a gift from God. The only word he could think of was magnificent. The pictures he'd seen didn't do it justice. Everywhere they went there was beauty. Animals frolicking in the snow, otters swimming in the water. What a grand time they had. They hiked on glaciers and met native Alaskans. This was a dream come true.
Once the trip was over and they returned home, he was not disappointed, he still loved the Catskills and the ability to walk in their beauty. He would still hike in the Catskills and look at the land below. Mountains never ceased to amaze him and he had precious memories of his Alaskan trip to keep with him always.
Otters swimming in the water
She wasn't overly fond of mountains. She loved the ocean and its warm, salty breezes, not to mention the warmth of the sun on your skin. Oh, she thought mountains were beautiful but cold and better viewed from afar. Her love for him was deep and never ending and she would do anything to please him. After years of hearing about Alaska, she finally gave in and they headed north. The trip scared her and she thought for sure she'd be miserable but she was pleasantly surprised when she loved it almost as much as he did. The mountains were always tipped in snow and the sights were truly breathtaking. They took the bus ride into Denali and when they saw Mt. McKinley the driver told them few people get to see the peak because it is usually shrouded in fog. It must've been an omen, she did the right thing because they got to see the top of Mt. McKinley, but only for a few minutes. After taking their pictures they turned around and the mountain was gone. Fog had covered it! The glory of Mt. McKinley would take anyone's breath away, she was glad she had seen it but she was happy to return to the Catskills.
She remembered their hikes in the Catskills. She remembered their hike to the Hunter Fire Tower. A day all the children enjoyed. He beamed as he led them to the 4,042 foot elevation and watched as they climbed the steps in the fire tower. They ran up and down those steps making her tired just watching them! It was a fun day for all of them. Sharing the hike and laughing at each other as they raced up the tower and down again. Watching their youngest son race down the mountain ahead of the rest of the family. She was happy to get back to the car and sit. They had worn her out but she was happily exhausted.
Life is often cruel and the heart attack that took her husband was certainly unexpected. How could she go on without the love of her life? How could she ever look at a mountain again? There were dark days ahead. Days she didn't want to get out of bed much less function. The light had gone out in her life.
Her children came daily trying to coax her back to life. Finally her oldest son said, "We're going hiking in the Catskills Mom. Won't you come with us please?" A tiny light poked into the darkness of her soul. His place, the Catskills. Could she find him there? Would she find him there?
Finally she agreed to the visit to the mountains. Her heart seemed to be beating stronger as she got dressed. It was almost like she was going to see him there.
Photos property of Tillsontitan unless otherwise noted.
It was a beautiful day filled with sunshine. The sunshine he loved to watch on the mountains, lighting part of it and leaving part in darkness. She thought, this is my life, there is still light even beside the darkness.
She laughed for the first time that day as her grandchildren ran up the mountain paths and sometimes fell down, just as her children had done. She watched her son lead the way just as his father had done, and watched the beauty around her. She started to come out of the darkness.
They climbed as high as they could go. She stood and looked at the land below and remembered his love of the mountains. She could feel his presence here above the world. She never imagined she would be the woman on the mountain top but she knew this was where she could find peace and be with him again. She could feel him here and knew she would be back.
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Read other answers to this challenge (it seems for some reason many of my links have disappeared):