Dad had always played by the rules. “Don’t cheat.” “Don’t steal.” “Say please.” “Don’t fight.” “Always ask before using someone else’s things.” And so on. So his suggestion early that morning took me by surprise.
“Do you want to go for a ride in it?” He smiled as he looked down at the seven-year-old-me. The stranded boat sat silently on the sandy beach.
My heart leaped—a couple times, actually. I stared up at him with my only answer being the giant smile on my face that matched how large my eyes were at the moment.
“Help me pull it to the water, big guy!”
It was dirty inside. We could tell it had been sitting on the beach for a while. A daddy long leg scurried across my hand before we made it to the water, but I didn’t mind. It was the thick black kind of spider that I couldn’t stand. The water pushed up to the shore repeatedly. There were mainly little rushes of water, but sometimes a bigger rush of water rolled up with a lasting swish sound as it completed its summersault. Eventually my giant smile gave way to excited chit-chat and probably one too many questions. Looking back I either drove my dad nuts that morning or made him fall deeper in love with me.
There was only one oar in the boat, but that was enough for Dad. “Climb in Jimmy, and stay seated, okay?”
“What happens if I stand up, Daddy?”–One of my hundred questions during the 30 minute boat ride. Dad pushed us deeper into the water and then jumped in himself. “Will we tip if I stand? How come you could stand when you got in?” And the questions went on until there was silence as we both enjoyed the rocking of the boat, the sounds of birds, the freshness of the air along with its gentle morning chill, the faintest smell of fish in the water below us, and everything else the free boat ride had to offer us. It was beautiful—the weather and the time we spent together.
Today if I could, I would find the man who had left the boat on the beach and thank him. Because of him, my dad put aside his rules for the only time in my life so that he and I could have a memory that lasted forever. That was my favorite memory of us and it will be the memory I share later today at his service before we lay him to rest for eternity.
I love you, Dad. I will miss you forever.
Written by Sheryl Marasi
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