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Tracks of her tears 

SHE'S A FLATLANDER, I’m a city boy, and we’re in the mountains. Talk about a couple of fish out of the water.

Generally, we vacation at the beach, but this year we did something different. My older sister has a chalet on a mountainside in North Carolina that everybody in the family has visited except us.

It was our time.

Long story short, we got out of town and headed uphill. I’m scared of the mountains. I don’t like the twists and turns, don’t like not knowing what’s around the corner. Can’t seem to get my bearings or confidence as I barrel up and down the uncertain roads. I don’t find them exhilarating, rather I find them disconcerting.

Once we established base camp at my sister Barbara’s, we made daily expeditions exploring the countryside.

Minnehaha Falls is our destination today. About a 40-minute or two beer drive from where we are staying. There are many better-advertised sites, but a local recommended this, and we are both suckers for waterfalls, so let’s go.

Parked the car and had to walk about ¾ of a mile up this trail. I’m in shape, she’s not. So I guide her, I prod her, and I try to make a track that she can easily follow. She’s my girl and I’ll do anything I need to do to allow her to share this moment with me.

It’s hot and we are sweaty when we finally come out on the clearing at the base of the falls. There’s a roar, a cool breeze, and a peacefulness that is palatable. We’ve arrived.

We rest and take a few photos and generally enjoy the small triumph of making the hike to be able to experience such a beautiful sight. We’ve earned the coolness and tranquility of this wonderful place.

I am one of the safest most conservative people you would ever venture to meet. That said, let me tell you what I did. I don’t know how tall this falls was, pretty tall would be my best guess. Anyway, I could see a path leading up the right side of the falls; people had climbed up there before me.

I left my baby at the base and started across the water on dry rocks to ascend on the other side. I’m hearing protests as I go, unheeded by me on this day I continued.

Twenty minutes and much effort later I climbed out on the top, inched slowly out on the rocks and looked down on a glorious site. Clearly, I shouldn’t have done it, I was warned by the signs not to do it, it was totally out of character, but guess what? I did it.

Took some photos while I was up there, and then worked my way painstakingly back down. Found my girl crying at the bottom when I arrived.

She was scared. She was shook. She saw her life without me and she felt alone. She had me falling, she had me hurt, and she had herself all alone.

It’s so nice to be loved. It is such a warm and satisfying feeling. It gives meaning to my life.

I’m sorry it took some cockamamie stunt like the one I pulled off to get her to express herself, but I’m not sorry I did it and I’m not sorry she felt as she did.

I would never intentionally cause anybody pain, it’s just not me. I’m far too sensitive myself. My motive for climbing that falls wasn’t to solicit this kind of response or emotion, matter of fact my motive was far less. I had a camera, there was a path, it was a rare combination of challenge meets beauty.

So what was my payback? A tough old broad who will not give me an inch is reduced to a sniveling gal who saw her future and her man taken from her. She saw the potential for loss, and realized the value of what she possessed. I didn’t and do not take any sadistic pleasure from that. She possesses me and I’m thankful for it.

Is there any better feeling in life than to be loved? Is there any other reason to live?

If we cannot acknowledge our existence by the love that we receive, what else is there?

When you realize you are loved, I believe you appreciate your place in this life.

You understand that what you are and what you have done has meaning for someone besides yourself, and that in itself legitimizes your existence.

You have served a purpose. What more can we expect out of our lives than to serve a purpose? We have affected someone else. We have left some mark however insignificant it is on someone else in the world.

Our existence has mattered.

I made someone cry today.

It’s not something I am happy or proud of, but I’m glad for both of us that it happened.

E-mail Tom at tparris@bellsouth.net

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Tom Parrish

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