On this day, I took my two-year-old granddaughter to climb my mountain when everyone said that it couldn’t be done. I gave her a short staff to steady the wobble of her little legs, and began her on level bottom ground, where I instructed her in the manner of the staff.

“Pull up, then push ahead, like this,” I said, as I stepped forward before her.

And we began our climb together side by side. And as we ascended and as confidence grew, rising like the mountainside, she passed me by saying, “I got this.”

And she did, but she would wander off the path, not understanding trail markers, or being too small to see them affixed to trees high above her capped head, and I’d steer her back to the signage saying, “this way Clara, stay on the trail or else we’ll get lost and we haven’t gear to spend the night.”

“Do you still have your whistle, Clara? We’ll need the whistle in case we get lost.”

The whistle was the enticement to get her away from her dolls…it took a toot to stir her…the whistle and the temptation and curiosity raised by the peeled, lacquered staff of pine, just the right, tiny size. I would prefer to think that a hike with grandpa would be motivation enough. Perhaps when she is older.

But I’ll be older then, too. And I’ll be like the riddle about walking on four legs, and then on two and then on three. And so, I have to keep in good shape cause, I cannot not be there, or not be able when she is then thus so motivated. I ought to be there to show her the signs and the ways, if needs be, when the trail becomes uncertain.

For this day, and for the mountain that teaches how to climb and how to reach for stars and how to do that even with little hands and on wobbly legs, and for hearing Clara say, “I got this,” I am grateful.

But I forgot to thank Clara before her mom and dad took her away to be long overseas. So, me thinks that it is better to be tardy than to be remiss, and that is a lesson that I have learned.

Thank you, sweetheart, for the promise of youth. Hurry back. I’ll be waiting here on the mountain.

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