“Hey! That was my mother, you know. I can’t just go get another.” I was really annoyed with my Sherpa.
My mother and I had been hiking through the Himalayas. We each had a Sherpa guide. My mom was wearing a parka with fuzzy trim that I don’t remember seeing her in since the late 60’s. The landscape, of course, was sensational. It was done up entirely in brilliant blues and whites. The peaks soared many thousands of feet above us, and the valleys plunged perhaps miles below. The ranges extended way too far to the horizon, as if we were on a planet much larger than Earth. The atmosphere was completely transparent. Cliffs and ridges near the horizon were as crisply defined as those close at hand. This spectacle is a real treat for a guy with a mismatched set of nearsighted, color-blind eyes.
And then Whoosh! My mother and her guide vanished into a bottomless crevasse. Just like that. No warning, no cry, no hullabaloo of any sort. Just gone. I was tremendously indignant.
“Is this how you serve your clients? That was so careless! That was the only mother I had, and I was counting on you guys to at least keep us on the trail. How do you expect to stay in business with this kind of shoddy service? Not to mention the attrition of your own workforce.”
I woke up rather annoyed.
I really did misplace my mother once. She went missing for about eight years.
It started the day she told me it looked like she and my father were going to go ahead with the divorce. Divorce? Who said anything about divorce? All I ever heard from Mom was “everything’s going to be all right.” This was in 1979, when I was a surly 15-year-old. The estrangement continued until a few months after my father’s death in 1987. At that time, she called from the bottom of the crevasse, “You have to stop being angry with me.”
“Why?” I spat.
And she told me everything, everything I never knew about my father.
I’d say it took nearly ten years for her to get out of that crevasse. I scaled down and met her halfway, and we climbed the rest of the way out together.