Tomorrow I’m taking a trip to Petit Jean Mountain. It’s been years since I’ve been there, but it was one of my favorite places when I was younger. I’ve been thinking of all the times I’ve visited, trying to find the perfect tie-in from the past to talk about my upcoming trip. Senior Skip Day (aka “The Day We Ramped the Crown Vic), Science Club hikes, and family picnics have been swirling through my head.

Petit Jean Mountain is beautiful, one of those places that just takes your breath away. Views, waterfalls, and everything that is best about being outdoors in Arkansas compete for your attention. It’s been too long since I stood in awe at its pinnacle

I was a candy striper at the local hospital in Morrilton one summer. My dad worked there for many years, and he encourage the idea. One day I was assigned to help him with some filing. Midmorning he asked if I would go down the hall and get him some coffee, “Not as your boss, but as your Daddy.” I did, of course, and I always remembered how he phrased that request. It taught me something about work and about people. Sometimes it’s not only what you ask, but how you ask it.

During that summer and for some time after, when I’d been hired on as a file clerk, I got to know my of my dad’s coworkers and a smaller group that I’d call his friends. One always stood out. He smiled a lot. My dad called him one of the smartest people he’d ever known, which made him on par with Einstein in my book. He also bought a Mercedes-Benz during the period when my friends’ and my favorite pastime was listening to Janis on vinyl. There may be some irony in that, but it made me smile.

George bought a home on Petit Jean Mountain. Well, to be more accurate, he bought a house and made a home. He filled it with art and antiques that made my budding artist’s heart do backflips. From the deck there was a view that made it hard to leave. When we toured his home, I learned something about wealth and possessions. He enjoyed and shared his home, but he didn’t commit the cardinal sin of “showing off.” What you have is of far less importance than how you act.

I got my tie-in to Petit Jean and the past, but not one I wanted. Mom called me Friday to tell me that George had died suddenly. Dad has been asked to do the eulogy. Part of me doesn’t know how he’ll do it, but the bigger part of me knows he will and will do it well. That’s another lesson I’ve learned from dad, many times over, throughout the years. You do the hard stuff for the people you love. And you always go to the funeral.

I promise my nest post will be lighter and brighter. Exciting things are happening here at PAB. Today just wasn’t the day to talk about them.

Getting ready for our trip to Petit Jean on Senior Skip Day in 1997