Chasing waterfalls

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Dad draws strength, peace from cascading falls

The beauty and power of waterfalls is helping to heal a local dad whose son drowned in a waterfall almost four years ago.

Kent Mason’s son, Kale, died tragically at Park Falls on May 19, 2017 while he was there with his brother Kade. Now, four years later, waterfalls are like a magnet drawing Kent to them; he gains strength and courage from being near the cascading falls and says he feels a connection to his son there.

“I had a hard time dealing with Kale’s death,” Kent said candidly. “I felt that I was hiding behind my fear and my grief. I just couldn’t shake it. My fear was living; I felt guilty living my life when Kale was not. He was only 19 and had a bright future ahead of him. I felt guilty living; I felt guilty being happy. How could I be happy knowing that he should be happy, he should have been the one living? I felt guilty that I could live my life when he couldn’t live his.”

The stress, fear and grief took a toll on Kent’s life.

“To be honest, some days I didn’t know if I’d make it to the end of the day.”

But like being underwater and slowly coming up for air, Kent is finally breaking the surface on his grief, and he has waterfalls to thank for his healing.

“I never thought I’d be able to see another waterfall again. But I felt Kale say, ‘C’mon, let’s get going here. You’ve grieved long enough. Start running towards what’s bringing you down.’ So I said, OK Kale, I’m going to run toward what’s bringing me down; I’m going to start chasing waterfalls.”

Kent roams the back roads of the province looking for waterfalls. He parks on the sides of roads and treks through the woods towards the sound of pounding water armed with Kale’s favourite baseball bat that he used the past couple of summers he was alive — a wooden Louisville Slugger. “I never leave home without it.”

He lays the bat by the waterfall and shoots a video, then posts it all on his Facebook site.

Since he started his healing journey less than two months ago Kent’s visited 64 waterfalls between HRM and Port Hawkesbury. He spends his free time and lunch breaks travelling the province hunting for waterfalls. “A lot of locals tell me where the waterfalls are,” Kent explains.

Once at the falls he speaks to his son and leaves behind a tribute. “Ever since Kale’s death I have received a tonne of dimes from heaven, from Kale. I find dimes where you would never think to see a dime. I get them whenever Kale thinks I need one, when I’m slipping a bit. And I saved them all.”

Every waterfall Kent visits he goes through a routine: “I take one of the dimes Kale gave me, kiss it three times for him and I and Kade (Kent’s other son), say a little prayer and flick it into the waterfall. It makes me feel at peace with him, knowing something I gave back to him will stay there forever for him.”

Each time he visits a waterfall Kent says he feels some of the grief and negativity that has permeated his life over the past few years wash away. “I don’t think I’ll ever be at the stage where I can let go completely, but this is helping me move on a bit.”

Kale was an exceptional young man with a great group of friends and a bright future. He had dreams of becoming an RCMP officer and was already a fireman with the Little Harbour Fire department, even though he was only 19 at the time of his death (https://angusfuneralhomes.com/tribute/details/1188/Kale-Mason/obituary.html).

“He was a great family person,” says Mason. “He made everyone feel comfortable and never excluded anybody. He was just an amazing kid.”

He shrugs, “People say that everything happens for a reason, but I’ll never figure out what was the reason … Maybe some day I will.”

Kent wears a special dime around his neck that he plans to leave at Park Falls. That will be waterfall number 88 on his list.

“Kale always wore number 88 at North Nova playing hockey. He was goofy and would always sign stuff at school ‘Kale 88.’ A lot of his buddies at school got No. 88 tattoos in his honour.”

The number is meaningful to Kent since it was significant to Kale. “That will go into Park Falls.”

But that doesn’t mean Kent will finish chasing waterfalls. He’ll continue his journey because of the peace and comfort he gets from making the discoveries.

“If I wasn’t chasing my fears and waterfalls I’d still be living behind my grief and behind my fear. This is helping with my grief.”