Today is Pepi's day. My wonderful, loving, funny, twinkle in his eye, Pepi. It’s seven years today since he died. His anniversary. It doesn’t make me sad. It makes me joyful, full of his love. Love never dies.
I’m looking at a photo of the two of us in Chamonix. Those were among my favourite times with him. Skiing and drinking in the sheer magnificence of the mountains. He loved them as much as me. We had such good times.
One time in particular comes to mind today... Morzine. We went there with Pepi’s friend, Stefan, and stayed in a chalet apartment. I can see the balcony now, the one on the second floor which I had to scale after a vodka-fuelled night with Stefan's friends. We got back to our chalet at around 2am and Pepi waited for Stefan to get the keys out. Stefan did likewise. ‘What, have neither of you got the keys?” I couldn’t believe it. I was probably the most sober of our trio that night. No problem, I offered to climb up to the balcony and get us in that way. I thought Pepi would protest 'no, it's too dangerous', but instead, he simply bent down, offering his back as my first ‘step’ up. He knew I could do it.
The best time, without question, was when I took him down the Vallee Blanche in Chamonix. He was 73 at the time. I did worry about the top section which can be a little hairy, but he managed it perfectly well. He also kept his nerve when it came to crossing the narrow glacier ridges. We took it fairly slowly and stopped now and then to enjoy the views and silence. By the time we got to the Montenvers, he was pretty tired so I carried both his and my skis up the long path leading to the refuge and the train. We collapsed on a bench in the sun, exhausted but crazy happy.
There were surprisingly few people. Usually the queues for the trains were very long at this time. The time! We’d missed the last train. The only people here, were those having a quick break before continuing the ski down to Chamonix. At this point, I began to panic. What was I thinking taking a 73 year old down a 25km off-piste run down Mont Blanc? And we still had a way to go. It would be dark soon. I knew he needed to rest, but at the same time didn't want to delay too long. We rested a bit, had a beer, and Pepi assured me he’d be fine.
Luckily, the ski from Montenvers down to Chamonix is an easy tracked path for most of the way, with just a little tree skiing in between. We were the last two on the mountain and the magic of swishing through the twilight snow made up for any tiredness Pepi might have felt. He loved every minute of that final descent to Chamonix station, all lit up for the night. He announced that we would take a cab to the hotel, ‘just this once, I think we deserve it!’ he said. For years to come, he would say that was the best ski day of his life. He was proud of himself, and rightly so. More than that, it was yet another shared adventure to add to our already overflowing treasure chest.
Today is a day to enjoy my treasure chest as I remember the most wonderful father a girl could ever wish for. I love you Pepi!!!