My daughter Cassaundra is visiting Albany for just a few days. I have only a precious short amount of time I can spend with her, in that she has so many people who want to see her before she has to fly back to Washington State.
How do you pack a year of what’s going on dad, what’s going on Cassie, into a single day?
It’s not easy. There’s a lot of talk back and forth about a lot of different subjects.
And then, in the middle of this one short day that I blocked out all my other activities to share with her…
I came up with an off-the-plan idea.
“Let’s go somewhere today. Somewhere we haven’t been to.”
And my original plan was to drive somewhere, anywhere – maybe New York City, maybe Boston, maybe the Adirondacks.
Instead, we drove to Schoharie County and went deep into the ground.
The ground of Howe Caverns, that is.
There we are, 150 feet below the surface of the earth, in approximately 50-degree weather, walking through the limestone and stalactites and stalagmites of a long-discovered cave.
And although this might be just another tourist excursion, the kind of trip that we all took as kids on field trips, there was something different about this trip. Something that, amidst the tour guide’s goofy descriptions of the various flowstones and streams and natural wonders…
It reminded me of the fragile bond that we all have in this world. Those stalactites and stalagmites in the cave were created with millions of years of flowing water and porous stone, and yet we’re warned about touching the stones in that the oils from our hands can cause discolorations in the fragile rocks.
We go through this world thinking we’re indestructible, that no harm can ever come to us. And then, in a single moment, something happens. Something changes. And damage is done. But the next thing we have to remember, among all, is that even if there are changes we’re not expecting in our lives, the best way to continue on is to make sure that those changes don’t limit you – that those changes instead define you.
We’ve both gone through lives that might make other people just sit in a corner and cry and give up. But we never stopped. Even when things might be overwhelming, we continued to make the best of things and plow through. Just like the stones in Howe Caverns – they continue to exist, even after nearly 200 years of tourism and 50 billion years of waterflow and creation.
After visiting Howe Caverns, we drove to Richmondville and had lunch at a little diner/quilt store. And we talked. And we talked about many things between us – the good things, the rough things, the things that only a father and a daughter could talk about.
We needed something to break our tension. And on the way back to my home in the Town and Village…
The tension breaker drove by us. It was a beat-to-pieces Subaru Legacy, it looked as if its owner pulled it out of the junkyard and slapped it together with bungee cords and bailing wire. Oh yeah, and he added a couple of spray paint cans of barf red to cover up the rust – and, just to make the effect even better, he added a spoiler wing to the back of the car’s chassis.
“That car’s Legacy is that it’s a piece of junk,” Cassaundra said.
“It should be left out in the Forester,” I added, jokingly.
“Definitely should have been left in the Outback,” was the response.
And for the next three or four miles, we joked about the car and its misguided attempt to look like a tuner-car. Tension broken between us.
And at the end of the day, we gave each other a hug and knew that our day together would be memorable and special. She’ll spend time with other family members and then fly home Thursday.
One short day we had.
One short day.
And in this lifetime that we all experience, we have to remember those short days. Because all of them make up a lifetime.
Even if it’s spent down in the caverns of Schoharie County…
…or if it’s spent goofing on the image of a misguided tuner car.