Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Remembrance #memories #gratitude #laughter

I turn the knob on the door and step out onto the small patio with a metal table and two chairs. My cheeks instantly feel the cool, crisp air as it assaults my senses and I breathe in deeply, appreciating the smell of the Ponderosa Pines. I smile and take in the beauty that can only be found in Yosemite. It is a bittersweet moment as I think about the cause behind my drinking in the surrounding view.

It was a little over a year ago that my father-in-law lost his battle with cancer. It wasn't until my nuclear family arrived in the valley did my husband divulge the true reason for our family weekend to one of our most beloved locations. Prior to his passing, my father-in-law made my mother-in-law promise to take all of the children and grandchildren to Yosemite to celebrate what would have been their 50th wedding anniversary; a special place the two of them shared half a century ago when they first honeymooned at this magical location. Always the outdoorsman, it was his ideal romantic getaway to spend with his new bride.

I knew we were coming to the park in honor of their anniversary, but I thought it was in support of my mother-in-law. I did not realize it was one of my father-in-law's last wishes. Instantly, the trip took on new meaning. Once realization dawned, I was not surprised by the perfect conditions that settled over the park for our long weekend.

As we jumped onto an early morning tram to take a two-hour tour, something we hadn't done in years, and my mother-in-law graciously arranged, sixteen of us bundled together in hoodies, hats, and blankets. The morning air was still crisp despite the sun rising higher in the sky. Soon the temperatures would reach the high 80s, but for now, we still huddled for warmth as the open air tram made its way along the valley floor. We listened intently as we took in the rich history of this majestic National Park with the shear granite cliffs that beckons millions of visitors each year to pay homage to its undeniable rugged allure.

As we ascended Highway 41 on the way to the Tunnel View overlook, I looked forward to one of my favorite views in the park. We disembarked and made our way through the throng of people, all trying to make their way to the stone wall. It is the easiest and most accessible place in the park to see the gorgeous view of the granite cliffs, created by glaciers passing through the valley during the ice age.

It didn't take long for my daughter to hop onto the wall, throw out her arms, and smile for the camera while my heart leapt in my chest. When she casually jumped off, without thought to the cliff behind her, I shook my head in wonderment at the abandonment of youth. Before I could stop myself, and reason out the insanity of what I was about to do, I jumped up and took her place. It was time to seize the day, take a chance, and live in the moment. In my ear, I could almost hear my father-in-law asking if we had both lost our minds. He was near famous for his safety lectures, which brought about a smile all its own.

Before we knew it, the tour was over and we were headed up the trail to one one of my other favorite places in the park, Vernal Falls. With our backpacks loaded with water, we headed up the incline. The heat of the day radiated down on the side of the mountain and we quickly wished for the cool air of the tram ride. It took longer than normal to climb up to the bridge, and I will it admit, I was the one lagging behind. I prefer to keep my hiking limited to the coolness of the early morning. The mid-afternoon sun had worn me out sooner than expected and once we passed the foot bridge and climbed a little further up the way, I broke from the trail and headed out onto the rocks to my favorite spot in Yosemite: a large boulder that extends out to the rushing water at the base of the falls. Being late in the year, with drought conditions, only a small trickle made its way past this year. The normally wide expansive falls, only a ribbon of water flowing over the top. My husband and I settled down in what I find to be one of the most tranquil spots in the busy park, unless you're willing to go hiking off trail, and watched as our daughter made her way up to the top along the Mist Trail. Nevada Falls, which looms above Vernal Falls, would have to wait for our next visit.

As I sat there, I thought of my father-in-law and what it would have meant to him to have all of his family together. I was filled with happiness and gratitude to be surrounded by my own family. My husband and I enjoyed the moment as we recounted our memories over prior visits and laughed over the killer squirrel that kept threatening to attack us because we would not share our jerky.

It was a weekend of remembrance; to be thankful for the love of family and a reminder to always count your blessings for the moments of shared joy.

K. Lamb


  1. I was literally there with your wonderful narration. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  2. What a wonderful tribute to family and to the "founder of the feast," your father-in-law who knew how important family connections are in life. L'chaim