Today I walked in the mist. It was pleasantly cool and mostly flat, on dirt paths through wooded areas.
As I walked, I was thinking about my father. Donald William Chilton was born on April 3, 1923 in Brooklyn, NY. His mother, Abigail, became a widow when he was only 3 weeks old. She raised him and his older brother Robert alone.
My father was a brilliant man, who found almost everything interesting. It was from him that I learned that the unknown was not to be feared, but explored. Different cultures, beliefs, lifestyles and ideas were what made life fascinating. And if you didn’t understand something, well…learn more about it.
He loved languages and finding out the etymology of various words. (We buried him with a well-worn dictionary.) He also loved poetry…and making up ribald verses, as evidenced by this “Christmas card” he sent to his brother.
Most of all, he loved us. He was 30 when he married my mother (who was almost 8 years younger) and she was his first and only girl. He never quite got over his good fortune.
And I think he felt constantly blessed to be a father.
As we grew into adulthood, he would sometimes get teary-eyed when he was with us. “Oh, Julie,” he’d say. “I remember when you were born.” And he’d get a bit choked up. My 16-year-old self didn’t quite get the emotion. I mean, of course he remembered when I was born – duh. (My much older self understands perfectly…)
When his first grandchild was born (Adam, my oldest) my father was over the moon with joy. Once, watching toddler Adam dance around the room while I played guitar, my father proclaimed that he could die right then and there and be happy.
My father would have enjoyed hearing about my adventures on the Camino. And he would have understood the “Camino magic.” Once, when I was driving a not-quite-reliable car from Long Island back to Massachusetts, he told me not to worry. “The car will make it,” he promised. “And if you have trouble, or something goes wrong, just wait. There is always someone who will help you.”
“There is always someone who will help you.” A lesson worth knowing. Then, now and always.