Under the bright yellow sun a man carries a small urn filled with a lifetime of memories. A small box filled with almost an infinite amount of stories and feelings, tears and smiles. As he slowly walks the beach he can feel the sand in between his toes and he remembers his father teaching him to surf. He remembers his much younger father trying to look cool but slipping off the board and crashing into the ocean. As his father emerged from the water he put his hand through his hair and it almost looked like his hair was slicked back perfectly from the water. His father never had a hair out of place when he had hair.
His feet feel like they are going in slow motion now, like with each step he has another wave of emotion hit him. He looks down at his feet and can see his father tying his hockey skates for him as a boy. He remembers how when he tied his skates they always felt loose but his Dad could tie them so tight for him. He never had to use the small tightening tool that some Dads used because he remembers his hands were so strong. He can see how his eyes lit up when his father was showing him how to skate backwards. How his father looked like he was a pro hockey player when he could switch for forward to backward skating so quickly and smoothly. He remembers falling a million times, but on the million and one try when he finally got it he remembers the look on his fathers face. His Dad could almost smile with just his eyes. He could feel that connection still, even though it was many years ago this first skate happened.
He continued to take that walk to the edge of the ocean and he felt a cool breeze. It was sunny and 80 degrees but the wind seemed chilly. It was as if on this hot, humid day his father was reminding him again to have a jacket or sweatshirt with him. Of course, he had a hooded sweatshirt sitting in his car along with a light jacket in case someone else might have needed one that day. He thought back to “the coat”. The one his father always had with him. It was nothing special, just a navy blue quarter zip pullover with a small little sailboat right about where your heart is. He had to wear that coat many times growing up because he would never have a coat with him. He loved wearing just a t shirt, but as the sun would go down and the cold moon would come out he would look to his father for warmth and his Dad always had that jacket ready for him.
He knew he needed to take this walk from his car to beach to the edge of the ocean alone. This was a walk he promised his father he would take as his Dad lay in that hospital bed. His Dad was losing his battle with cancer. The Doctors had said it was only going to be a few days until his passing so he drove to see him alone. They said everything they needed to say, lots of times without saying a word. His father made him promise that his ashes would be spread in the Pacific Ocean. Living on the East Coast he had found that a little strange but he was willing to do whatever was asked of him because that man he was looking at raised him right. They sat with each other and laughed a bit. They connected as they always had, without many words needed, just being with each other. After a few hours, his two boys and wife came to hospital to say their good byes. The boys were strong, just like their father had taught them. They grabbed their “Papa’s” hand and told them they would take care of their Dad and kissed him on his forehead one last time. The boys walked outside the door and broke down in tears. He rushed out to console them and wiped the tears from their eyes. He talked about how this last part was still a part of life. They needed to experience it to appreciate what they had. How his boys were so lucky to get to see this part of life from the most important part of their Dads life.
As he took his next step and could feel the ocean water hitting his toes. His eyes began to water and a tear rushed down his face making it all the way down his neck and sort of stopping at his light chest hair. His eyes were as wet as his feet now. But, he did not wipe the tears from his face. He remembered when first fell off his bike learning to ride and his father rushing to pick him up off the ground. He tried to stop crying because he was with his big tough Dad but his Dad looked at him and said “Tears are not a weakness. I will cry with you anytime. You get all those tears out.” His Dad was never afraid to cry, something he saw many times after that first bike fall. His Dad could tear up at a commercial on tv. When his wife died 5 years ago, he did not cry until all that were left was him and his son. He looked at his now grown son and fell into his arms. They cried for 10 minutes or so together. He was never afraid to show his true feelings when he was with his son.
He slowly opened the urn as he was now about waste high in the water. He tried to turn it as slowly as he could, he did not want this walk to end. He wanted, although his father was physically gone, to spend a more seconds with him. He deserved more years, many more. He was a GREAT man, and deserved to be a grandfather a lot longer on this planet than he was given. As he looked into the urn he was having trouble trying to come up with the appropriate words to say for such an important part of his life. What words are there to describe the man who was the Sun, the Moon and the Stars to him? There were none. So, he said the only thing that was appropriate to him “I love you” and he looked up at the brightest, yellow Sun he has ever seen and sunk the urn into the sea. He pulled the urn from the ocean and tipped it over to make sure all the ashes were gone.
As he turned to walk back to the sand he saw that his wife and two boys had come to the edge of the water and were waiting there for him with a towel. He could feel the sun hitting his back and the warmth from the sun made him pause and smile and all the tears were gone. As he got closer to his family he could not stop smiling. In the saddest moment of his life his father had let him get all his tears out. His boys came running into the ocean and hugged their Dad. The type of hug you never forgot. The ones where you just don’t really ever want to let go of. As the Sun hit all of them, it was in that moment he knew, his Dad wasn’t really gone. Anytime he needed him he would just look up at that beautifully perfect yellow circle in the sky and feel the warmth of love and lessons his father had taught him.