THURSDAY, OCTOBER 05, 2006
I write this on the eve of the 16th anniversary of my father’s death. Sometimes I remember him so clearly that I can hear his voice; other times his presence seems so very long ago that when I try to picture the details of his face, what forms in my mind’s eye is really the recollection of some photograph or other, the image of one particular instant fixed in time by light striking film – not the real man at all.
The youngest of ten children born to Austro-Hungarian immigrants, raised in a tenement on New York City’s upper east side and orphaned at the age of 20, he took to the Adirondack woods. His days were often spent climbing the high peaks; his nights reading Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare, William Joseph Long or Thoreau by oil lamp light.
And so, on this anniversary of the last night we spent together, I offer you a photograph of my father at the summit of Mt. Marcy, January 30, 1931. The temperature was 5 degrees below zero.
I stop writing and walk to the mudroom door, peer in, and see the same snowshoes, now sporting new leather bindings and – God forgive me – a bit of duct-tape here and there – and I am thankful for that piece of me that is him.
I miss you, Packy.