In the room where we waited was a photograph of The Knife’s Edge on Mount Katahdin in Maine, a narrow path on the mountain crest, like an extended, exposed vertebra.
Mama was raised in northern Maine.
“Nice picture. Did you hike that?” she asked, and used her chin to point at the photo.
“Why yes I did, we did, my wife and I hiked it on our honeymoon. That’s the Knife’s Edge on Mount Katahdin, which is the end, or the beginning, of the Appalachian Trail. It’s extremely dangerous you know.”
“Oh!” Mama exclaimed, “And how long have you been married?”
“Let’s see, I’ve climbed Katahdin….Mary?” she included me in the conversation “When was the last time we went up Katahdin?”
I calculated. “I wasn’t with you. I think it was when Jimmy was ten….maybe in the 1980s? Maybe 1982?”
Mama let the podiatrist do the math. She waited. She knew he would, and she was a patient patient.
His head snapped up and his careful hands released her foot.
“68? You were 68 the last time you climbed Mount Katahdin?!”
“And Knife’s Edge. Once you’re up there, you might as well cross it.”
To his credit, the podiatrist chuckled.