John's Pass

This picture.  I came across it recently and it quiets me.

Cross my heart, I remember these nights of my childhood so well.  This is how we spent many of our evenings, at our lip of the ocean, the local's spot.  Even though now a distant memory, and a tourist's beach, I know exactly how that sand feels still.  I know what the air smells like: humidity and brine and perfect.  If I close my eyes real tight (and I do), I can see the faces of my family.  My brother must be running around out there somewhere because this is his fishing pole.  I must've been talked in to this rare moment of fishing.  I never liked to fish, kind of like how now as a grown up living in the West, I do not like the rodeo.  I've always wanted to sit, seek, be quiet and watch.  I'm fine to be the one who tells the story, tone down the fish's fight a little bit while glorifying its mad dash back to sea, all the while tossing pearly shells around in my pockets.

I'm absolutely sure that my mom, grandma and grandpa are sitting in front of me.  The other watchers.  My grandma liked two very specific shells that I would go in search of here at John's Pass: pink cat's paws, and the ones that look like itty bitty sugar cones in ocean tones, a blink of a hole at the top.

Today is Father's Day and I really miss my dad. 

I think a lot about the last two years we got to have with him.  I would ask him questions I'd always wondered about his childhood, and life with an identical twin brother.  Things I never knew about him that I was so grateful to learn now as an adult and a parent myself, straight from his language and expression. 

One day we talked about Florida and tears came to his eyes, for these were the days.  He did a lot of looking out the window and fidgeting with his hands, clasped as he'd rub his right thumb into the cuticle of his left thumb, the exact thing I do when I am nervous or sad or full of deep thought.  I know now, without a doubt, that if I had brought along this picture to show my dad at some point during our last couple of years together, he would've wept.  It is a very true and powerful vision of what was and also what was lost along the way.

But here I am, looking at this beloved picture today, writing a story.  I am telling a story about my dad and about my life, and the life of my family, even if it's an ironic one.  As well as I can smell and feel the memories in this photograph right now, I can say that my dad taught me two of the best lessons of my life.  That time should not be taken for granted.  And that forgiveness lives in the very center of the heart.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.  I miss you more than you'd believe.  I always did.  Maybe this summer I'll make my way back to our old beach, take a walk and watch the boats.  For you, for us.  Maybe Theo and Sully can fish there with Tim while I look for Grandma's shells.

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