Tuesday, August 31, 2010

2010.08.31 Man on Beach

I’m sitting by the sea on the beach with a book, my favorite activity other than sitting at a computer with writer’s zeal.

It’s my father’s birthday today. Happy birthday Dad. If you were alive you’d be 99. How old are you in heaven’s time? I still love you. Love travels. As I post this it’s my older son’s birthday. He’s 43 and a good dad.

I can’t help hearing, seeing, observing, then riveting on a man, no a family, to my left. Dad + Mom + daughter + daughter + son + son + baby son. Breeders. it’s not an unattractive grouping though perhaps too numerous in a time we aim for zero population growth.

What catches my eye is the father-son, Dad & Tim, duo. Tim is about seven, the penultimate child so far. He plays in the sand. Dad wants Tim in the water. Dad begins the campaign coaxing “Hey Tim. Tim. C’mon in. Tim. This is great.” Tim doesn’t want to go swimming. Dad escalates from persuasion to force. He runs up on the beach. Tim runs away. The chase is on. Tim screams, screeches, No, Dad. No Dad. Dad. We know the end in this battle of wills, this legendary drama that will repeat itself over and over, day after day.

Mom sits on the beach cuddling son # 3, kissing the top of his fuzzy head. Is she trying to infuse the littlest with love enough to face his future with dad? Or is her placidity compliant? My teeth meanwhile are gnashing.

I admire Tim's determination and pluck. By day 4 he is tamed. Now he goes into the ocean, plays at its edges calling out, laughing, exclaiming how much he loves it. All is well. A good life lesson has been learned, but what lesson and who learned it?

On day 5 dad begin to call loudly to 8-10-month old Mickey (pronounced My-kee) inviting him into the water. Start’ em young, the saying goes. But mom holds fast.

I debate strategies: appeal to mom? deliver a domestic violence lecture to dad? flash my credentials to back up the obvious? call the police,? pray for divine intervention?

I do nothing. Why? My mind supports me with all kinds of cautionary tales and possible scenarios. The truth is: my fear overpowers my conscience.

The one I pray for is myself.

Later I pray for dad who likely was once a boy like Tim, coerced, violated and helpless, his will discounted along with his fear.

I do this because I know that if dad finds a healing of his ways Tim will have fewer wounds to heal, and the healing of the universe will have begun—anew.