The whole family was having fun on the rocky beach of Waterton Lake, with the somewhat smoky view down into Montana still spectacular. Nona found some cool rocks, a couple of them with a heart shape imprinted. She took a sharp stone and carved messages on a few of the tablets, such as “Live. Love. Laugh”. “I’m hoping people walking on the beach will find them.” What a marvelous idea. The boys and Lance were skipping stones and in general hanging loose.
It was time to head back to the camper and the family left the beach before me. As I roamed over the stones, here came a family: mom, dad and their daughter, perhaps 20-years-old. I couldn’t resist saying something silly, so I looked at dad and said “How about if you and I have a race, swimming to the end of the lake?” [7 miles!] Dad laughed. I conveniently forgot to mention that I couldn’t swim. Anyway, we stood there blabbing about the mountains, the trails and other good things. I talked about myself too much but these folks laughed easily at some of the stuff I said. That made me happy. I told them about Jody dying last November and that I had written a book about her. Theresa (mom) immediately said that she’d like a copy. Emily and Kevin seemed keen too. Oh my, I was happy some more. I had new friends – from Missoula, Montana. We agreed that the next night I would come over after supper for a visit, with a glass of wine a possibility.
Early the next afternoon, Lance started driving up the steep highway from Waterton townsite to Cameron Lake. I remembered the first section of road. In the early 70’s, some Prince Of Wales Hotel employees created the PWSJMA, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, means the Prince of Wales Slow Joggers Memorial Association. I created the “Memorial” part. I was actually quite proud of my contribution. Many evenings, the group of us would run (jog, walk, totter …) onwards and upwards to a big rock on the edge of a pullout. As far as I know, none of us ever died. Yesterday, I kept looking out the window, searching for that rock. My goodness, did we really run that far? I must have been a man of steel!
We were all in the van, with Nona in the front passenger seat, Jace and me in bucket seats midway, and Jagger and Jaxon goofing around in the back. I thought of my dear wife Jodiette, and of our travels with the family in 2011 and 2012. Jody was always in the front, and Nona at the back. I looked at the back of Nona’s head and saw Jody instead. It was lovely. It was loving. I was sad. How I miss my wife.
Up at the lake, Lance and the young guys decided to rent a canoe. While Nona was doing her thing somewhere nearby, I strolled onto another rocky beach and saw three familiar human beings – my friends from Missoula. I was happy to see them. They were happy to see me. How can it be that I’d only known them for less than a day? Such comfy folks. We talked about mountains, I guess. The topics didn’t matter.
Now, back to family doings. The guys were off, smiling into the wild blue yonder. Nona and I wandered down the lakeside trail and stopped at a beachette. We sat down. We talked about how we each had traumatic experiences in swimming pools. We watched the canoeists from Longview head way down Cameron Lake. Later, we strained to see the little canoe shape, wanting our loved ones to be safe. Mostly though, Nona and I sat there in silence, comfortable. A woman came by to cuddle Ember. Another woman and her young daughter walked past us on the beach. Ember didn’t like them for some reason. Lots of barking.
That evening, I walked over to site A2 and saw Kevin sitting at their picnic table. A bottle of red wine was also in place. Emily and Theresa soon joined us. We talked about how Theresa and Kevin met. Emily told me what she was doing in college. All of them were missing Elyse, the older daughter, who lives near San Francisco. It was natural. I had fun. I do hope I see the Finnegans again.
After darkness had come visiting, I got up to leave. I hugged Theresa. I hugged Emily. I looked at Kevin and we decided to hug with a laugh. I waved goodbye, turned towards the home camper, and felt my eyes moisten.
Oh, what wonders can appear in the space of a day. Lucky me.