Sitting on the beach, catching some rays and listening to the peaceful, rhythmic, sound of the waves as they lapped against the shore, she watched people come and go. She saw joggers out for their morning run. She saw old married couples walking hand in hand. She saw children building a sand castle.

However, she couldn’t help but watch the two people in the water. A father and daughter in the ocean on a beach filled with people, and yet, you would think the two of them were on their own island. They were oblivious to all others; they were wrapped up in their own world and having fun.

The father held the little girl in his arms, while venturing out into the water. The little girl had her arms wrapped around her father’s neck. Anytime a wave came and crashed against their bodies, almost causing them to topple over, the girl would laugh hysterically and squeeze her arms just a little tighter around her father’s neck. The force of the waves was powerful, but the strength of being held in her father’s arms, arms filled with love, were more powerful. Those arms would not let the little girl fall, she was safe.

Suddenly, watching the father and daughter, she was in another place and time. She was with her own father on vacation at the beach more than 30 years ago. The vacation spot was Atlantic City, N.J. The days always started out the same by waking up early. Waking up early on vacation meant a day filled with activities and fun. Waking up early at home meant a school day! She loved early morning vacation days. You could wake up early to bicycle ride on the boardwalk in Atlantic City. Or ride alone or ride a bicycle built for two. She wanted to ride from one end of the boardwalk to the other. But as always, time ran out before the boardwalk did.

Next, it was onto the beach. Time at the beach was spent soaking up the sun, looking for seashells and always, winding up in the water. Much like the little girl who held onto her father for safety, so did she. Holding hands, together, they would brave the waves. She remembered watching as a big wave approached and wondering who would win out, the wave or her father. The wave would come rushing towards them, using all its force to knockdown and drag her back out with it. Only, it never happened, she held on tight to her father. He won and she was safe.

There were times her father would swim alone and challenge the ocean. It was at these times, instead of waiting for the waves to come to him, he would swim into them. The harder and faster the wave approached, the quicker he would swim. Every time the two met, it seemed as though the wave was the victor as it swallowed him up. She could still hear her mother, calling out her father’s name and waiting for him to reappear in the water. A minute or two would pass, and his head would pop up. He would wave to signal he was safe. Eventually, regrettably, he would come out of the water, just the way the little girl was doing now.

Seeing the little girl emerge from the water instantly brought the lady back to present day. The girl walked straight up to the lady watching her and said, “Hi mommy.” I looked at my daughter and said, “Hi” back. I didn’t ask if she had a good time. From the smile on her face, I knew she did. My daughter never met her grandfather. Yet, I am certain that as sure as my husband’s arms were around her, holding her up and keeping her safe, so were her grandfather’s.

But, oh, what wouldn’t I give to see him wave to me from the ocean one more time.

One Response to “At the Beach”

  • rita says:

    absolutely love this one. it really pulls at your heartstrings. could read it over and over and enjoy it everytime

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