Living With An Adventurous Father

Posted in Excerpts at 07:54 am by admin


Urubici Mountains

Urubici Mountains

I think that parents should be aware that their family may not share in their need foradventure, and their family may not share in their unquestioning faith in God’s protection.  As a child, I experienced terror while my father and mother were able to pray and put their safety in the hands of God.

In Divine Betrayal  I tell of many times when I dreaded being with them but I had no choice.  One such time was having to travel on mountainous roads. Here is an except from my book:

About twenty-five miles from Urubici we made a sharp left turn at the small village of Bom Retiro.  There we found a gas station, motel, restaurant and a few houses. From Bom Retiro, in the near distance, we could see The Panelao, or the large pan, a land formation that resembled a skillet turned upside down. The Panelao was a prominent mountain jutting high above the rest and one that we had to cross in order to reach Urubici.  It seemed like we often reached Bom Retiro around two or three in the afternoon, just in time for the daily tropical storm. I’d look from our car and see the clouds gathering and darkening as we got closer. Dad always pulled into this little village to fill the tank and get a little something to eat at the restaurant. “How’s the mountain driving?” he asked the truckers who nursed their coffees in the same restaurant.

Nao pode ir, e muito perigoso, espera ate a chuva passar,” they usually said, which meant, “You can’t go. It is very dangerous, so wait until the rain passes.”  

A broad smile spread across Dad’s handsome face. “Well, then,” he responded with a shrug. “Hurry up, Mother. Come, girls. Let’s get going.”

 ”John, listen to the truck drivers,” Mother pleaded in a high-pitched whine. “They know best. Let’s wait here a while, John, and have another coffee.”  But inevitably Dad ushered us into the car and took off towards The Panelao.  For the first eight miles out of Bom Retiro, the road was flat and curvy. It didn’t start climbing noticeably until just before reaching the foot of the mountain. This, invariably, was when rain drops first started to splatter the car windows. Just as the steep climb began, the rain cascaded down in sheets. The one-lane road, with its fine red dust and dirt, became as slippery as soap. And in these conditions, trucks coming down the mountain left deep ruts in the sticky clay. The road had continuous hairpin curves. Eventually Dad was forced to stop the car and fish the heavy metal chains out of the trunk to wrap them around the rear tires.  The chains helped a little with the traction, but we still slid from one side of the path to the other. 

            On one side of the road was the mountain: reassuring, solid, and protective. But on the other side was the precipice, beyond which was thin air that dropped straight down hundreds of yards to the earth below. There were no guardrails, no shoulders, no safety at all.  Many trucks and cars slid over that precipice to meet their fate. The slim edge of the road was dotted with white crosses and faded paper flowers, to remind us of those who hadn’t made it.

            Mother prayed continuously. “Dear Lord, please protect your servants, help Dad keep the car from falling down the precipice, and keep us safe in your arms.” 

 I hunched in my seat and bit my nails, tasting the salt from my skin and the gristle of cuticle between my teeth.  Dorothy didn’t say a word. She sat straight up in the seat beside me, her eyes open wide, her lips pursed tightly. I could see and feel her silent fear, and it only magnified my own.  The mountainous ascent took between thirty minutes and an hour, six miles that felt like sixty. Miraculously, we always reached the summit, from which we then had to inch slowly down for another five miles. During the descent, the rain had usually slowed or stopped, so the road wasn’t quite so slick. But the moist clay caked our tires so thickly that Dad had to stop again and again to scrape it off in order to continue forward.

            These mountain drives were truly as dangerous as they seemed back then-or more so. They weren’t overstated due to a child’s exaggerated fears. The risks were real, as evidenced by the makeshift grave markers along the pass.  But Dad loved the adventure. He greeted it with a wry smile and an eager willingness, not once or twice but every time he got the chance. And why not? He was thoroughly convinced that God would take care of His servants. What was Dad if not a devoted servant of the Lord?  And so, from his point of view, there was nothing to fear. Nothing at all.

After sixty years, I still remember every detail of these trips and last night I had a nightmare in which we were on a similar mountain road, and a dark cloud of rain and wind was hovering over our minibus.  I experienced the same feelings of terror.  When I woke up, I was startled, and it took several minutes for me to calm down and realize that it was only a dream this time.    




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