From the WELL Life Stories Conference, 1993, my remembrance of my daddy:

  My father was killed in a plane crash when I was fourteen.
  He'd just decided to buy the plane, which we'd leased to fly to Montreal the
  month before.  It was 1967, and my parents and two sisters and I flew a
  little Cesna twin engine six-seater to Eastern Canada from the east bay.
  It took several days of flying to get there, and we'd fly a tankful, then
  stop at a pleasant airstrip and camp out with our two puptents near the
  The Beatles had just come out with Sargeant Pepper's, and I was under the
  headphones most of the day as we flew.  I loved the lower altitude and
  slower speed.  We saw mountains, fields, lakes.  I memorized lyrics and
  thought about the classmate I had a crush on, with his Beatlesque haircut.
  In the evening we played the cassette player without the headset.  My father 
  told me he liked "Eleanor Rigby".  He took an interest for the first 
  time in my musical obsession.  I was a bit proud that he found the lyrics
  intelligent, even tho this was my musical turf.
  I remember our staying with German-Canadians who ran a campground in the
  outskirts of Montreal.  They were kind respectful sorts except when it came
  to the television in the front room where they had their campground 
  registration desk.
  "French TeeVee!" the wife said with contempt.  "It's so *stupid*!"
  I remember my father catching my eye and then rolling his.
  Expo 67 had more avowed international friendship.  I remember "habitat" and
  the USA geodesic dome filled with lovely junque American in witty
  counterpoint to the Soviet industrial display.  Movie relics, space stuff,
  and dolls.  Of course, American tourists loudly complained at how it wasn't
  serious enough.  Me and my father loved that one.
  Being fourteen, I made an effort to do as much as possible on my own, and I
  got a good deal of independence.  I like the Czech pavillion, in the summer
  of the Prague Spring, a paragon of interactive creativity.
  They had a movie with several endings.  The audience got to vote with little
  remote devices on their chairs.  Rumor had it the audiences always made the
  same choices, but the other choice existed.  The filmmakers were a bit
  disappointed.  I loved it, what a collaboration with the audience!
  We flew back to California, camping all the way, me buried in books and
  This time we went to Bishop, and to my father's mountain climbing school
  based at Palisade Glacier in the high sierra.   
  I was almost too old to enjoy hanging out and fishing and hiking while my
  parents ran the climbing school, but I was just old enough to have a crush
  on a couple of the guides who worked with my father.  They were grad-student
  aged, and fearless and strong.  Totally oblivious to a fourteen year old,
  which was fine, actually.  I just wanted to pine.
  My father hiked in from the high camp one afternoon with a bunch of climbers
  who were going to fly back to the Bay Area.  I remember that I'd gotten a
  cash deposit from a late arriving climber, and I asked, "Daddy, what do you
  want me to do with this $20?  The cash box was locked."  
  He said, "You've been a good girl.  Keep it."  And he was gone, driving the
  truckload of climbing clients down the mountain.
  A few hours later friends drove up to see if they could help, and were
  shocked to see by our happy faces that we hadn't heard.
  It had been on the little local radio station.  Larry Williams, the
  Mountaineering Guide, had gone to tiny Bishop Airport with some climbers
  who wanted to be flown to San Francisco.  He'd loaded up, taxied,
  and then stopped.   He told them he didn't like how one of the engines
  wasn't kicking in. Since it was a very safe, stable design, with two
  engines, front and rear, he'd take it up with one and see what was going on,
  but he wanted everyone out.
  He taxied back, took a run at it, and the new plane defied all logic.
  Both engines failed on takeoff.
  The aftershocks of that day rippled through my life for years.  The hardest
  thing was that I wanted to be stoic.  I was a rebellious teenager in 1967,
  not a weepy child.  So I didn't let myself grieve for years.  My mom and 
  sisters took it hard, too.  Or maybe not.  Who could possibly say how much
  pain should be caused by a sudden accidental death of a creative, warm,
  adventurous parent? 
  Once in a while I remember waking up the day after the crash, at the house
  of our friends in the town of Bishop.  I'd been dreaming...  in the dream
  my father told me it had all been a mistake.  He rolled his eyes and
  grinned. The radio station had a mixup.  It was *another* Cesna xy234515...
  he told me, rattling off the serial number I once knew by heart from the 
  flight to Canada.  He looked pretty amused.  As I awoke I figured out the 
  joke.  The number was unique.  Not funny, but he'd looked so amused as he 
  said it.
  Later, as I memorized the last words he'd ever spoken to me, I realized that
  the dream was a gift of quirkiness, at least.  "You've been a good girl" was
  so mundane. "It was *another* Cesna (serialnumber)" became a dark private 
  joke about denial. 
  I'm older now than my father lived to be.  I still take some risks, and I
  still don't resent his piloting, his climbing, his mountain rescues, his
  winter ski expeditions, the uncertainty of life with an adventurer.  But I
  do feel sad now that I never got to know such an interesting man from the
  vantage point of an adult.  Or to see him age and watch him make life
  I remember him dipping cold water out of fresh mountain streams, and showing
  me his favorite wildflowers, or letting me steer his wonderful new plane
  over the Platte River, singing along to Eleanor Rigby.  All the lonely

I'm proud to be his daughter, and to have his photos, and my memories of that time.

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