A short story – The answer is in the mountains

Excerpt of a writing written 11/20/2012 :
When I asked my grandfather a question sometimes, he’d give an answer that made sense to me, but most times, he’d just say “The answer is in the mountains.”


It wasn’t until the day he died that he told us what that meant.


I mean we would ask all kinds of questions like ”where does the sun go at night???” and ”how do you keep ripe strawberries fresh?” and ”how long is too long to wait for an answer to a question?”

and the biggest, ”What is the purpose of life?’ and he’d just say, “The answer is

In the mountains….”

My grandfather said the answer was inside of a story, and the story wasn’t his, even though he was a part of it, so much as it was hers. She was raised in a town by the mountains. Nothing but sunshine in her soul… But all that sunshine wasn’t enough to keep her warm that time she went on a search for the puppy that had gone missing the day before.

Everyone else had given up the search for the lost pet, but at 7 years old she couldn’t accept that he would meet the same fate as the sheep that had gone to the mountains and been trapped in the caves, so she set out refusing to come back alone,

Was it the innocence of a child or was she just that courageous to set out on this mission??? He said “The answer was in…”

… My grandfather was 13 at the time and he was the servant for a soldier that was only 20 years old but since this young soldier was the son of a general, he was expected to live a life of battle. He had already spent 5 years on battlefields at the border of their territory.

My grandfather was an orphan whose parents had died during an avalanche years ago. The general had taken him in. Now that he was 13 he was considered old enough to work with the soldiers. He was learning how to properly care for weapons and how to survive in all the terrain that the soldiers faced.

On one mission, he and the soldier were studying the mountains to see if there were any caves that could be used for storing weapons and supplies for the army.
What they found in one cave was a small glossy statue of a girl and a small puppy. The soldier threw his blanket around her and screamed. My grandfather didn’t understand the scream and when he asked the soldier later on the trip back why he had screamed, the soldier simply said “When you’ve seen the evil of war, every innocent thing is made more precious.”

Many people today and into the future might have a hard time recognizing that someone as young as 20 could speak such wisdom, but wisdom is rarely due to age, but rather to experience, and the willingness of the person to learn from each event. Even a 60 year old can live foolishly if they never took the time to learn.
By the time they returned to the village, the girl and the puppy had recovered, and the young soldier sat in peace… He vowed to protect her til his last breath…

I asked my granddad to explain how this connected with his favorite reply, “The answer is in the mountains.”

He smiled weakly but warmly and said, “Think on it after I’m gone. Think of the girl, think of the puppy, think of the soldier… and think of me. Think of the mountain. Almost every question will lead you back there.”

This isn’t one of those stories that ties up all the questions for you with perfect answers This story is more similar to life itself, in that those who want to learn, will pause to think on it, to see what the old man saw in the mountain.

(to be continued)

in the mountain 3



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