The sun glowed over the mountain, glistening off the dew throughout the meadow like a myriad of tiny crystals lighting my way. I shielded my eyes from the crisp north wind as it stung my cheeks and tried to pull the hood from my head. "Surely this trek would be easier if I felt the warmth of the early summer sun," I said aloud, my breath steaming from my mouth. But why was I complaining? Nearly a year ago, when I moved from my home at the foot of the mountain, this valley sat silent, dusted with a powdery white coat.
In the silence and solitude of my journey I began to reminisce about my life in the small hillside neighborhood. I had nearly forgotten how beautiful the countryside was in the early spring. I had always taken the peace and tranquility for granted.
I thought of the church socials when I was a boy. How dad was always there with a dish of food, and mom standing proudly by his side. I never saw the purpose. Being dragged to these affairs only caused me to become more distant and bitter. “Son,” my dad would say, “without your faith and your family you ain’t got nuttin’!”
Many years passed, mom’s health began to deteriorate, and I began to yearn for a life away from the small town, and my dad. He spent more and more time caring for her until it consumed nearly his entire day. I tried to stay away from home as much as possible; I could not bear to see my mom in her condition. Dad asked if I could help take care of mom, but the more he insisted the further we grew apart. After several months we barely spoke to each other.
The bitter cold of winter passed and mom was getting weaker. “You should go to the church,” she told dad in a quivering voice. “They are having a lunch today.”
“Not without you,” dad replied softly. “I need you by my side. Without you I ain’t got…” he squeezed mom’s hand as his lip began to tremble.
“Faith,” mom said, trying to lift her head off her pillow. “Faith and family, both are important,” but dad would not leave her alone.
After mom passed away dad’s will to live began to wane. I could no longer bear the small town life, so I packed my bag. “Where will you go?” he asked.
“There’s nothing for me here!” I snapped back. I threw my bag over my shoulder and headed for the door, “I can find work in the village.”
“But what about …”
“It’s not enough! There’s got to be more for me out there.” I headed out the door. When I looked back I could see my dad’s pain etched face turn and disappear into the shadows of the house.
After nearly a year the hurtful words that I spewed would not quit echoing through my mind. I found myself walking the trail toward the familiar old cabin. Everything seemed dark, dreary, … and lifeless. My heart sank at the thought of what I might find. “Hello, are you home?” I announced as I marched in a quickened pace.
“Who’s there?” a voice called from inside the little cabin.
“It’s only me,” I answered, breathing a sigh of relief.
A familiar, age wearied face peered through the open door the tiny shelter. The sunlight accentuating every crease and wrinkle his lifetime of experience had earned him. “Wha … What are you doing here?” his voice started to crack, and the hint of a tear formed in his eyes.
“This is the first Sunday of spring,” I said in a querying tone. He just nodded. “The church still holds a spring potluck, don’t they?”
“But you left,” he said. “You moved so far …”
“You didn’t think I would miss the potluck?” I interrupted. “It will take more than a hand full of miles before I pass on such a great tradition.” I stepped onto the porch and we embraced. “We just have enough time to make your famous potato salad and get over there.”
He began to smile as he brushed a tear from his cheek, “It’s good to see you, again.”
Misty eyed I followed him into his home, “It’s good to see you too, Dad.”
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