I was at my parents' house over the weekend, a surprise quick stopover on Friday night on my way to other business up in the mountains on Saturday. I've mentioned before that I have colitis, and since I had an appointment an hour and a half away from where they live, I got up early to let my insides settle out before the drive.
As I stood in the kitchen of my parents' house, my dad came in. It was about 6:30 I think. He said he had just woken up and couldn't get back to sleep.
He stepped outside to get the paper and have a smoke, and I saw him standing out on the back deck surveying the land and wildlife beyond - fairway, mountains, trees, elk. I walked outside and stood beside him. We looked toward the deep glow starting in the east from the sun, which was only just beginning to light. "Should be a good sunrise with those lenticulars out there," he said, raising his hand to gesture towards the few flat, arced clouds that hung above us. His airplane pilot's knowledge of the skies did not obscure the childlike awe in his voice. That was once his domain up there, and he still knew how to read it well.
I recognised the moment as one that I hoped to remember for the rest of my life. My father was purely himself: wise, a cigarette in his hand, patient, explaining. I put my hand on his shoulder. "I love you, dad."
"I love you, too" he said, and we stood there for a few more moments in the autumn mountain air.