Memoir Excerpt:

“Hi Mom. Guess where I am! My sponsor took me on a ride on a tram in the San Jacinto Mountains! It’s gorgeous up here. I can see for miles and miles.”

“Thanks for calling, Angie, and sharing this with me. I love you!”

I always ended our communications with those three words. Even if we were fighting, and the words got ugly, I made sure she knew that I loved her. I no longer took for granted that this was just another phone call. I never knew if this was going to be the last one. High up on the mountain with her sponsor, could they see what was coming? In the movie Out of Africa, Karen Blixen said, referring to her imminent illness, “The world was made round so that we couldn’t see what was coming down the road.” And that’s a good thing. How would our lives be altered if we all had a crystal ball?

That summer I wanted her to come visit and see our farm in the Southwest. In she flew from sunny Palm Springs to sunny New Mexico, and it was a joy to have her with us for a few days. Angie is, among other things, a very talented artist, and I asked her to paint a little sign naming our farmhouse Casita del Mar, so named because of my huge shell collection. It still hangs on the post in my front courtyard, though in the years since her visit it has sustained a lot of weather damage.

We had fun, tooling around Santa Fe, and visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. I knew she would appreciate seeing this artist’s work. Angie had a gift for expression, both in the spoken word and in her renderings. As a child she wrote a lot of poetry. She also could capture on paper a face or expression with great accuracy. In art school I was good at drawing elevations and brick walls, but I couldn’t begin to draw someone’s face. Angie had a great gift.

We continued north up the slow mountain road to the Taos Pueblo, where we visited a potter we knew and bought some more of her pieces. The next day we took Angie up the tram on Sandia Crest, where you can see for miles in three directions. Looking out for hundreds of miles—and looking within. I knew I was doing a lot of that in my own recovery, but Angie never shared her recovery work with me. On our last day together we celebrated her birthday at dinner in Corrales. Of course, she had to get back to work. We hugged at the airport and said goodbye. Again, there were so many goodbyes—so much uncertainty. I will never allow complacency into my life again. I will never, ever, take a moment of happiness for granted.”


2 thoughts on “Mountaintops

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