Last updated 5:46PM ET
December 16, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
A Pagosa Woman's Father's Day Memory
(2008-06-13)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: Sunday is father's day.
While the day is special for many of us as we honor our dads, for a Pagosa Springs woman, the day brings back painful, but special memories.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: On June 20th, 2006, 64-year old David Lauer fell to his death while climbing 13-thousand 694 foot tall Mount Gilpin near Ouray, with his dather, Anna Lauer.
It was father's day.
Anna Lauer has honored her father this father's day with a special column she wrote for Inside/Outside magazine, and which she agreed to share with KSUT listeners.
Here's Anna Lauer:

ANNA: On the morning of the day my father died, he looked up at the mountain we would climb and said, God, I live for this. As it happened, he died for it too. But my father was not unfamiliar with paradox. In life, he tried to sit in stillness, at peace with unknowable truths, the Tao of nothingness that is everythingness too.

I try to give myself permission to believe that as he fell to his death off the north face of Mt. Gilpin (just outside of Ouray, Colorado), he fell in great stillness, at peace with knowing and not knowing, into the nothingness that is everythingness too.

In the last years of his life, especially, my dad rooted himself in three peacemakers tenets: not knowing, bearing witness and loving action were his particular panaceas for the pain that humans inflict on each other, on ourselves.

In the last hours of his life, we finally spoke with candor about our family's contentious history. He answered questions I'd never dreamed I'd have the guts to ask. I found myself bearing witness to his words with an empathy I didn't know I was capable of. I did not finish his sentences with what I though he was trying to say, presuming I could say it better. I was finally comfortable not knowing, comfortable just listening. I bore witness to his disappointment and pain. As I felt myself actually understanding his feelings, I felt freed from the chains children forge for themselves out of the metal of their parent's mistakes. For my father, knowing that I understood his action was nice enough. For myself, knowing that I really understood shattered ugly patterns I had feared I would force myself to wear in every relationship of my life.

Just a short time after that watershed conversation, I bore witness to his fall of 3,000 feet when the rock outcropping he'd grasped for a handhold broke away. Mt. Gilpin is not a hard mountain to climb, it can be a casual day hike. But somehow we'd skirted around and gotten committed to the one vertical face on the whole damn peak. It was fairly vertical, fairly breakable, fairly insurmountable rock. And so we did not surmount. My father fell, and I, climbing down trying to reach him, eventually cliffed out completely and was later rope-assisted the rest of the way down by search and rescue.

So I bore witness to our unalterable consequences. I watched mountains as I stood stranded high above my father's body. I breathed in mountains, and then I breathed them out again. I bore witness to the terrible grace of the basin that was formed from the mountain that had killed my father and its fellows. I accepted that sometimes insurmountable odds are not overcome, accepted as Lao Tzu said that in gravity is the source of lightness. I tried hard to sit (or stand really) in stillness on that mountainside, because if I did not I would fall too; and because in sitting in stillness you sit with unknowable truths and nothingness and everythingness, too.

It was Father's Day 2006 the day my dad died. I felt pretty pissed to be left fatherless on that day in particular, and awash with guilt for not leading him up a different route, for not turning back sooner, for not catching him as he fell, for not getting to his body sooner. For Not. But I know too- as healthy biological creatures each know about self-preservation- that For Not is not a tenable place to reside. Rather it is No Knowing that I must dwell on and dwell within.

I am celebrating my father on this Father's Day because he left me with a legacy of knowing I am loved, knowing the importance of bearing witness, and knowing the unity of opposites. And I am celebrating all fathers on this Father's Day because they represent one half of the creation story of all of us.

I am celebrating mountains on this Father's Day, because they at once ground us with a deep sense of place and let us ascend up and away from the ordinary ground. I am celebrating mountains because my father loved them so much that they are where he must have been meant to stay.

VICTOR: Anna Lauer of Pagosa Springs, remembering her final moments with her father, David Lauer, on father's day two years ago.
Anna is a 2003 Fort Lewis College graduate, a writer for the Pagosa Sun, and is currently busy building
A copy of her tribute can be found online, by going to ksut.org, and clicking on this story under regional news.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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