The trip to the pretty town by the sea was perfect and humbling.
It was great to see my parents. My mom had prepared and provided for every little thing we might need. Amenities for the heart and soul were left bedside: home-baked cookies in decorative tins, a stack of new books for Little J, a crossword book for Dennis, and a People magazine for me.
We walked along the boardwalk:
Visited the elephant seals:
Climbed on the rocks:
And searched the horizon:
My dad and I, in visits past, had taken long, vigorous walks (sometimes runs) over the hills and through the woods to the ocean. I’d shown him yoga poses and he’d shown me Thai Chi moves. We’d stayed up late talking about films, books, politics and whatever-the-heck. We’d gotten up early and headed out again.
Boy have things changed.
We stood Sunday afternoon in the living room where an oak tree had recently crashed through the roof. You’d never know of the rift now, the ceiling and wall repaired and polished over.
My dad says to me, “I never thought I’d be walking with a cane.”
“I never thought I’d be wearing a wig.”
“Always one-upping,” he answers.
“Always,” I say, needing the last word.
A long silence stretches between us and out the window, through the oak trees that have stood there forever, unassumingly, like there’s no effort involved in being that old and beautiful.
A deer appears out of nowhere. My dad says, “I was hoping she’d come today. She visits me every day. We have a special connection.”
We are both so much quieter now, father and daughter, both of us nearly ground to a halt by physical goings-on beyond our control. Both of us remain as active and seeking, but in a different way: more from a place of stillness and not needing to do or be so much all the time.
I realize that we are more alike than ever.
The next day, Little J comes running along the shore with little specks of mom and grandpa in him. He flies down the shoreline, stomping magic into the wet sand and breathing new life into everything we always thought was fixed and true.
He shows us how light and exciting and easy it all really is.