Saturday, April 20, 2013

And not a single man died

About 20 years ago Ian and I went to a presentation by a local man who had climbed Everest. He gave long involved descriptions of the hideous weather, the cold, the impossible terrain, the many hardships as the party fought their way toward the summit.

But what stuck with both of us, and in fact had us doubled up with laughter as we crept out of the auditorium three-quarters of the way through the presentation, was the speaker's total dead-pan and sing-song delivery of one inevitable phrase. Each time he worked his way up through an escalating litany of mountaineer's woes he ended with a melodramatic tag-line, "…and another man died."

The expedition seemed cursed from the beginning. Equipment failed, dumping climbers into thousand foot deep crevasses, climbers were swept off ledges by the wind, buried under avalanches, others died of altitude sickness and hypothermia. By the time they approached the summit the party was reduced by half.

No, it was not funny, but his delivery of the phrase, again and again, milking every last bit of drama from a long and dull story made him sound like a commentator at the Master's describing the loser's putt approaching the cup.  It's been a catch phrase with us ever since.

Anyway, I do not know what brought that to mind, but by noon today it was a nasty 0 C with snow and a north wind that gusted to 40-50 mph.  I wasn't eager to get out in that. As I was working up the courage to make the assault on McKinley/Kilimanjaro, the phone rang.  It was Ian, asking if he could drop by. Who says no when their eldest child wants to visit?

In half an hour or so he was in the living room. When he learned I was going shopping he asked if I wanted him to go along and help. (Is chocolate tasty?)

So, my darling, beautiful, strong son drove me to the Mount McKinley WalMart, did the lifting, loading, unloading and we had a great lunch together while talking politics and other subjects of no particular interest to anyone except ourselves.

Then we tackled Kilimanjaro, where he ran around and got items for me, and again loaded, unloaded and was a very faithful Sherpa indeed.

Once he'd unloaded the two cartloads worth and had me settled in he took off, to attend a social function of some kind. And I am glad to say that on this expedition, not a single man (or old lady) died. I think that may only be because the Sherpa was so skilled at loading groceries, but then I may be prejudiced.    

1 comment:

Linda P. said...

I'm not certain of the nature of the particular physical challenge that turns everyday tasks into Mount McKinley and Kilimanjaro for you. However, I can relate to the "if I do this today, I can't do that tomorrow" choices you have to make. Three years ago, I made no such choices, but rheumatoid arthritis has made them necessary now. May you find peace in winnowing out the unnecessary tasks and honing in on what is necessary or renewing.