Along the Shoreline


We take our teenager to the beach today. He wants to show off his new swimming trunks, splash in the surf, girl-watch, and ride a few waves. Bruce and I don’t have to run after Ryan now, we can sit in beach chairs and let him swim on his own. He keeps us in sight; and while Bruce naps behind dark shades, I look up from my book every so often to make sure I see Ryan’s head bobbing above the waves.

 Bruce and I gave up worshiping the sun awhile back. We are content to sit in our folding chairs under the shade of a striped umbrella, share a smoked turkey sandwich with tomato slices from the garden and a bag of potato chips. He drinks iced tea and I pull a bottle of water from the cooler for myself. Between chapters and naps, we chat about our boys, Ryan’s upcoming school year, and Ben’s obsession with finding a truck.

Bruce takes off his glasses, pushes up from the arms of the chair, sneaks me a kiss, and grabs the boogie board, heading in Ryan’s direction. I know how the water draws the boy in Bruce to it. His strides are long and sure as he steps into the surf. I grab the camera and run to the water’s edge to capture a father/son moment.

As I make my way back to the umbrella, I hear the cell phone ringing in the side pocket of the cooler. I answer the phone to my Dad’s voice. It’s been almost a month since my step-mother died. The loss has been hard on him. They’d been married thirty years. We talk for a few minutes about the weather, our vacation, and the boys.

“What have you been up to?” I ask.

“Cleaning out drawers,” he says, with a small catch in his voice.  I want to reach through the phone and hug him.  “I clean awhile and cry awhile,” he says. “When I can’t take it anymore, I go outside. That helps.”

“You know Labor Day Weekend is coming up,” I say. “Why don’t you plan a trip to our house and join us for a picnic?”

I hear him flipping the pages on his desk calendar, the one that has all of his and my step-mother’s doctor’s appointments written in it. “I could come for a few days,” he says. “My dentist appointment isn’t until the following Wednesday.”

I tell him I’ll invite his sister, my Aunt Marsha, Bruce’s parents, our friend Robert, and his girlfriend.

“Tell your Mom and Gilly to come too,” he says.

“OK,” I say. “We’ll make a day of it.”

“I’ll be in touch before the first of September,” he says.

“Do you need anything?” I ask.

He pauses, a long pause. “No,” he says in a very small voice.

“I love you,” I say.

“I love you too,” he replies, and the line disconnects.

I hang up the phone and look out to the horizon, catching a glimpse of my husband and son, riding waves and splashing each other. I pick up the camera again and walk toward them.

In the periphery of my vision I catch a glimpse of a military cap, the kind my Dad wears with the name of his ship, The USS America on it. I turn and find it on the head of an elderly man who’s walking hand in hand with the woman he loves.

I follow them for a few minutes, watching as they take slow, careful steps along the shoreline. They don’t talk, but every once in a while one squeezes the hand of the other.

 I lift my camera to take a picture. I want to capture this moment, not for them, but for myself.

I feel a cold spray on my back. I turn to find my husband cupping more water in his hands to splash me again. I put the camera in my pocket and bend down to the water to give him just as good as he gets.


Tags: , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Along the Shoreline”

  1. Steve Says:

    … and of course the last line is poetry, Train.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: