Friday, August 29, 2014

But first...

It's time to complete an ancient promise. In 1958 I was sitting in the lap of my Granddaddy John (for whom I am named).  He was 83 , retired after 47 years as a surgeon, and I was his 3rd and last grandchild - the only one to live their childhood within a hundred miles of him: I lived 100 feet away (just across the residential street).  He called me "Johnny", I called him "Papa", and he was magical: he smelled of Tampa Nugget cigars.  He had a wooden leg. He would tell amazing stories. And he loved to help me read the latest National Geographic magazine.

That's what we were doing that day in 1958 when he said to me: "Johnny, there are two places I would have loved to have gone... but now I never will."
"Where, Papa?"
"Machu Pichu, Peru; and Ulaanbataar, Mongolia"
"That's ok, Papa.  I will go there for you."
"You do that, Johnny."

In 1986 - 28 years later - I made it to Machu Pichu and told my long dead grandfather that I was halfway. Tomorrow - 28 years after Mach Pichu - I fly to Ulaanbataar. I will raise a glass or two to that kind, gentle loving man who gave me his name and a whole lot more. 

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