I was adopted, so my dad is older than other peoples’ dads. I’m going through some stuff with him, my friends haven’t had to go through yet. I always felt invisible until I met my father. He enrolled me in ballet classes, coached me in soccer, taught me to fight, cover my ass, how to hide in the dark, how to rebuild the engine of a car, and how to find water in the wild.
He was a Marine and was recruited into the S.E.A.L.s.
He took me hiking once and I asked him if he took a cell phone when he normally went out alone. He told me no.
“What’ll you do if you fall and break your leg or something?”
He turned and looked at me in all seriousness.
“I’ll crawl out.”
He suffered from congestive heart failure and was recently diagnosed with cancer. He has to take twelve different medicines every day to keep his heart working, but has drawn the line at treating his cancer. He’d prefer to go out his own way.
Sometimes I catch him out on the property somewhere, just sitting quietly watching the trees.
The other day he turned and looked at me and said, “When you were little, you were so little, but you weren’t afraid of anything. You used to always try to run away. You thought you could just survive on your own in Yosemite. You always just wanted to be in nature. Remember that? Everyone used to tease you in school and you would come home and tell me you were going to live in the woods.”
“I’m certainly in the Wilderness now,” I said.
“I’m not worried,” he said, “if anything happens, you’ll crawl out.”
In the words of the seminal punk band Crass:
“Do we owe them our lives? Of course we fucking do!”
Happy Veteran’s Day, pops.