W is for Washington

In this case Mt. Washington.  On a clear day, now that the sun is up, I see Mt. Washington from the window of the weight room at the Pineland YMCA where I do my daily sweating.

This is the view, which you can click for a larger version

W is also for Win, my name.  My namesake, also Win, was my father's elder brother - he was the second of 6 sons and my dad, the fourth.  My uncle Win died before I was born, at the age of 19 in 1937.  He was someone my father never talked to me about, and to be honest, I never gave him all that much thought. 

When you are growing up, any adult who died before you were born is ancient history.  My uncle wasn't old enough to have yet made his mark on the world, or left evidence of a life to be emulated or avoided.  I am not sure, though, whether my lack of curiousity about him had anything to do with some deep suspicion that I might somehow share in his karma - that I, too, might be destined for an early death, my promise unfulfilled. 

Now that I have lived almost three times the lifespan of my namesake, I am pretty sure I harbor no such dread.  Whether or not I have fulfilled my promise is another story - if I haven't, it certainly hasn't been for lack of time.   It is probably blasphemous, on this Easter day, to speculate on whether some of him might live on beyond the grave in me, some unique genetic expression that we alone share.

My namesake uncle died in a skiing accident on Mt. Washington.   Although no one witnessed the event (his companion had fallen, though not fatally, a few seconds earlier) he was apparently blown off a trail at Tuckerman Ravine by some sudden katabatic wind gust and fell some 1500 feet, hitting his head on rocks and probably dying instantly.  Wind sent indeed.

To tell the truth, I still rarely think of my long lost uncle, even when I catch a morning glimpse of Mt. Washington.  There is, though, a certain irony in facing my namesake's mortality across 58 miles of western Maine as I struggle on exercise machines he could never have conceived of in the vain effort to control my blood sugar and keep my heart healthy for life everlasting. 

March 27, 2005 in W is for... | Permalink | Comments (1)