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A Steak for Dad

A big ol' rib-eye bridges the gap between a father and son

En español | Every calamity, they say, presents an opportunity. In my case, the catastrophe came on a winter's night, when my 68-year-old father let go of the handholds 25 feet up on an artificial rock-climbing wall. He'd taught me to climb as a teenager, and we had scaled sky-high summits together under a blue Sierra Nevada sky. But then we drifted apart: I got married, had kids, and took up cooking; my father kept climbing, spending days on Yosemite's El Capitan.

Here's how the accident happened: My father tied the climbing rope not to his harness but to his leather pants belt. When he let go of the wall, the rope ripped through his belt and he fell, fracturing two vertebrae.

And here's the opportunity it presented: first, to spend all those days at my father's bedside in the hospital; and then, more important, to cook his very first meal back home.

My father needed to feel like a man again, not a sick, weak patient. So I made him a dish I thought might help — a giant rib-eye steak topped with a little maître d'hôtel butter. The hours we spent in the hospital, talking about all the good times gone by, may ultimately have been more significant in bringing us back together. Yet only by cooking that steak — and watching the look of satisfaction cross his face — could the man I'd become help the man my father had always been.

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