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Sixty-Something: Those Special Moments We Remember

T.J. Clemente

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Over the course of a lifetime there are a few special moments that stand out as the most amazing thing that has happened in our lives. (Courtesy Photo)

Over the course of a lifetime there are a few special moments that stand out as the most amazing thing that has happened in our lives. I am not talking about the birth of our children or awards we win in sports but something that goes beyond those wonderful events. Here is my story.

I had promised my daughter I would be in Lake Placid to see her last figure skate of her summer training back around July 28, 2000. The problem was that I would be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the day before. So I had to catch an evening flight from Milwaukee to NYC, and then get from La Guardia airport to my car in NYC. My plan was to drive all night to Lake Placid to see her final skate at 6:30 a.m. at the Olympic Rink in Lake Placid. Having slept on the plane that made three stops before arriving in New York I was ready for the challenge. I also figured I could catch two to threehours of sleep if I made it to Lake Placid by 3 a.m.

I stopped to have dinner with a friend and his wife in Stamford, Ct and left their place at 10:30 p.m. The car I had was a new white 2000 VW Cabrio convertible. With the top down I drove up the Taconic Parkway on a clear warm summer night. Around Albany I switched to the Northway. I had done this drive many times. At almost exactly 3 a.m. I turned off the Northway and on to Route 73 at Keene, NY. This is the road to Lake Placid.

Then it happened. The sky lit up like it was on fire. Boulder like meteors shot across the sky seemingly right in front of me, I pulled over and stood on my seat in the convertible. It looked like the flaming boulders would land on the road. This went on for perhaps two minutes. One after another, sometimes two at a time these boulders crossed in front of me high in the dark sky. These were not typical tracer shooting stars but huge boulder like meteors. The energy and the awesomeness of the spectacle numbed me. I waited perhaps a half hour before I could drive again. I wondered if more meteors might happen, but that was it. It was the most powerful event I have ever witnessed in my life, yet there I was in the middle of the night all by myself watching it feeling so alone that I didn't share this amazing event with anyone.

I was unable to sleep and eventually went for a 5 a.m. swim in Heart Lake and showered at the Adirondack Loj about 10 miles outside Lake Placid. I arrived at the rink as my daughter was arriving with her skates. She was staying at Lysiks, a skater's boarding home a block or so from the rink, and broke into the hugest smile when she saw I somehow made it. Her skate was wonderful because my daughter was such a natural figure skater and with her training she was beautiful to watch as she did her new routine. Afterwards we went back to Lyciks to pick up her belongings and headed home. I tried to tell my daughter about what just happened early that morning but somehow the subject changed and we had a great ride home via a few tourist detours. Later that day I slept the sleep of very tired but happy dad. Even now it is hard to truly explain what happened in the sky that early morning night.

Five years later I moved to Montauk living at Ditch Plains right on the ocean. Every night I would walk my beagle along the ocean and try to see a shooting star. Many times I did but I never ever saw anything like I saw that night on that drive. It was one of those special moments of a lifetime.

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Guest (Thomas Bonfiglio) from Voorhees, NJ says::
Great article TJ. What a great show Mother Nature put on to break the monotony of your journey. She certainly selected you to be the "Chosen One". And such a great effort and selfless act to keep the promise made to your daughter. This event was bigger than High School graduation. Great accomplishment on her part to attain a once in a lifetime opportunity as a potential Olympian. Thanks for the memory. Your friend and classmate,, Tom
Jan 30, 2018 8:06 pm

Guest (Joanna ormond) from Mt. Pleasant, SC says::
Wonderful article TJ. Great memories and wow! What an experience !! 👍👍
Jan 29, 2018 5:44 pm


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