At the Lighthouse

I want to write, but my heart is so full right now, and I don’t know where to start.

Mr Awesome and I visited my dad today. We made the long drive NorthWest from Portland to Cape Disappointment. We stopped for Snickers bars at a gas station in a small Washington town and had a lovely long conversation about everything and nothing, the way we do when we get together without the kids.

We had packed a lunch, and parked at the base of the trail, and hiked up, past Dead Man’s Cove and through the forest to the cliff face overlooking the Pacific.

There’s been some changes, in the past fourteen years. A fence around the Coast Guard station. Trees lost to coastal winds and storms. Erosion has
shaved some distance off of the path, and eaten the sign with the poem on it that I have always loved.

But he’s still there. My dad. Watching the ocean, laughing with the other old sailors, and listening to the voices of the children who visit this historic site daily. I could feel him there, still at peace.

And I leaned into my husband’s arms and cried.

We watched the ships cross the bar, and the waves strike the jetties, and the dragonflies chase each other. My mom will never make it up there again, to be near him, so I took lots of pictures to show her later this week. And she and I will probably cry together, and laugh, and miss him. I cherish this time with her… I know she hasn’t much time left, and soon, in a year or a few, I will be an orphan. No parents, no sister, no grandparents, no ties to the child I was, no people to tell me the stories of way back when.

And I look down, as I type this, and realize the hands I have are the hands I remember my mother having, except I have all my fingers, and I am the same age now as she was when she had me. She was 35; my father was 50. An age difference that seemed impossible, when I was small, but seems so much less so as I look at my own dating history, realizing the last date I went on was with a man thirteen years my senior, and somehow, we had a lot in common we could talk about.

My mother’s light is flickering now, not as steady as it was even five years ago, and I realize it’s my turn to carry the torch, so to speak. To tell my children the stories of Portland-that-was and the world that used to be before 9-11 and technology and economic collapse and everything else that makes their world so much different from the one I knew. It’s up to me to fill their amazing brains with stories of the grandfather they will never know, so he isn’t lost, so the world will carry him for just a few more years. To let them know that when they see the ocean, he is there, with them always, laughing at them and loving them from wherever he is now.

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