The climber and the seeker
There is a saying that we can’t choose our family but we pick our friends. Though friendship has been part of the human experience since the dawn of time, no one has been able to put a finger on what atoms, chemicals, or shared experiences bring people so close together that they have the privilege of calling one another friends. When the Walt Disney died he left his empire in the hands of his nephew Roy Disney and two men called Frank Wells and Stanley P. Gold. Roy Disney had to take on the ceremonial functions of running Disney, and it was left to Frank Wells and Stanley P. Gold to run the company on a day-to-day basis. Frank moved next door to Stanley and the two families became inseparable. Each workday would begin with a morning walk and a shared breakfast. Frank and Stanley became closer than Mickey and Minnie. They were together all the time, except the times when Frank would say good-bye to his own family and head for Nepal.
Frank would come back full of wonder at the tall mountains and a friendly people of this country. Although he had left, one particular mammoth - Mount Everest, continually haunted him. He came back with great stories about how he tried to climb it and failed. They were so funny that Stanley insisted that Frank write a book about being an inept climber who never got to the top of Everest but had a great time trying. The book was a success and the Wells-Gold partnership grew. Then the unthinkable happened, Frank Wells died in a helicopter accident while advising Clint Eastwood on The Eiger Sanction. Stanley was consumed with grief and didn’t now how to find the closure he so desperately needed. He was drawn to Frank’s great-unfinished task — Everest.
He sought advice from a trekking agency aptly named Friends In High Places and along with his daughter Jennifer traveled to Nepal. Stanley was short and overweight but still determined
to see Everest. “If Frank loved it I have got to see it. I already see what he saw in Nepal. Frank was a warmer person than I am and this is a very welcoming country.” He went on a trek to Thyangboche monastery with Jennifer, but when he got there it was dark and Everest was hidden. The next morning they awoke to see the sun set fire to the peak of the world’s highest mountain. He said, and didn’t know why he said it, “This is the time Frank and I used to go for walks together,” he paused for a while and then said,”I wish we had walked here together.”
He had prayers said at the Monastery for Frank Wells for several days. And then one day he said quite simply to Jennifer his daughter, “I think I have understood Frank completely and in a strange way we will be together in all the decisions I had to make from now on Nepal and Everest have seen to that.” Stanley didn’t come back to Nepal. But Jennifer did and she reported that it was like the old days. Stanley was enjoying himself again. And for a time the Gold’s made there home a place where Nepali’s could visit and bring back memories of Frank Wells and complete a circle that even death could not break.