Deb over at San Diego Momma presents . . .

PROMPTuesday Exercise #17: Get Specific

Deb’s exercise this week: Get specific with your writing. As written in the Observation Deck, “Never just say ‘red dress,” say ‘ultra revealing micro mini with fringe.” Today, write a paragraph or a poem about anything, perhaps your first car, and describe it to the smallest detail. Or, start a sentence to flesh out an adjective, like, “He was so lazy that . . .”

Deb’s rules this week: Please note that there are no rules for this prompt.

Woo hoo! No rules! The first rule that I would be breaking if there were rules this week? I’m writing this on Wednesday. Mwah ha ha! And the second rule that I would be breaking if there were rules this week? I totally went over the usual word limit. I’m a rebel, I tell you, a rebel! And the third rule that I would be breaking if there were rules this week? No ten-minute time limit. I totally took a good hour or so! Woo hoo!

Here’s my specific submission:

Observing the Force

“’May the Force be with you’ is charming but not important. What’s important is that you become the Force, for yourself and perhaps for other people.”
~Harrison Ford

Dear Tom,

The Sunday sky was clear, the air was balmy, and the gentle breeze was comforting. I caught the sparkle in your eye and the warmth in your answer when I suggested taking a picnic to the beach. I loved our teamwork, packing the lunch, loading the boogie boards and towels and umbrella into the car, and how you patiently circled the parking lot while I ran into the drug store to buy beach chairs to replace the ones that I had given away during an overzealous effort on my part to clean out the garage. We didn’t take Laura’s complaints about “detesting” the beach too seriously. Apparently, Laura didn’t take herself too seriously either, as she giggled while inserting protests into the conversation. Finally I said, “Laura, can you see the glass half full in this adventure?” She replied, “Mommy, that’s impossible when all there is to see is a completely empty glass.” Then she giggled.

True, my perfect driving record was spoiled by a metal pole with road rage the day before, but we noticed that my overall Car Karma remained intact as we parked in my usual spot, i.e., the parking spot closest to my destination. You cheerfully toted the lunch, boogie boards, towels, and umbrella across the sand, while I covertly ogled your strong biceps and brown back. We found the perfect spot on the crowded beach, and those new chairs afforded us a cozy position from which we could eat our sandwiches and look upon the crashing waves. After lunch, as Laura tentatively put her toes in the water, she held her boogie board and watched the other children jumping and splashing in the ocean, and riding their boogie boards in the waves. She said that the seaweed was making her nervous, and she kept running to the dry sand to avoid it.

I stood by your side, with our toes in the water, and I told you that I wished that Laura wasn’t afraid of the ocean. I told you that it made me sad to watch Laura watching the other children as they jumped and splashed in the ocean, and rode the waves on their boogie boards, particularly since Laura has always been a strong swimmer. I told you that I know that Laura is our baby, and that we naturally want to protect her, but I was afraid that perhaps we’d done it too much in some ways. I told you that I feared we’d taken from her the sense of accomplishment and the joy she would have by stretching herself in new ways, in this case jumping and splashing in the ocean, and riding the waves on her boogie board.

You took my hand and looked into my eyes so tenderly. I felt connected to you, as we are, of course, but it was good to feel it in that moment. We stood like that for a while, side by side. A little while later, you stepped away from me and moved to where Laura was standing, in ankle-deep water. You gently asked Laura if you could carry her out into the water, just up to your waist. Your voice was so soothing, but you didn’t treat her like a baby. She sensed your strength, I think, because she reached up to you and held on, eager and willing, despite her fear. I couldn’t hear what you said to her after that, but I watched you both and my heart could feel that your words were just right.

Step by step you went further and further into the ocean, with Laura in your arms, until soon the water was up to your chest. I was aware that there were scads of parents and children all around you, but in my eyes it was as if the sun was shining a spotlight down on only you and Laura. I could see you jumping and splashing in the waves, with Laura still in your arms. And after a while, just as gently as the sea foam laps up onto the shore, I saw you set Laura down and take her hand. She looked up at you. She looked out at the waves. And then you jumped and splashed together. Soon, the waves were crashing over you both as you dove under them together, holding hands. In a dance-like motion, while still holding hands, you changed places and put your backs to the crashing waves, and jumped some more.

As my eyes drank in the nourishing sight of Laura’s joy, she let go of your hand, and I gulped down my own fear. I watched you keep your eyes on Laura as she jumped and splashed and dove and laughed, in the waves, on her own. After that she reached for the boogie board and began riding it over the waves. The smile never left her face. Even when that other child’s boogie board ran over her, and Laura went under, she came up sputtering and smiling. She stayed in the water for so long that we finally had to coax her out when our lips turned blue from the cold.

Into the ocean went a father, a husband, a protector, a leader. Out of the ocean came a daughter, a brave girl, a willing spirit, a joyful child. And on the sand stood a mother, a wife, an observer, a blessed woman.

Love, Cheri

33 comments on “Observing the Force”

  1. “He whispered, My precious child, I love you and will never leave you … When you saw only one set of footprints, It was then that I carried you.”

    I couldn’t resist. Sorry.

    I’m just jealous. You know that, right?

  2. Geez. I have tears in my eyes. I thought you were going to say something like…I loved our teamwork…and how you patiently circled the parking lot crashing into poles and parked cars while I ran into the drug store to buy some condoms…

    Your story is MUCH better! Yay “R” family! Yay Laura. Tom, can you do that for Henry? He is scared of seaweed too.

  3. Excellent post Cheri, as always. I recall a similar event with my dad when he taught me to boogie board. I am sure I too was afraid at that age, but with him by my side I probably felt as if I could do anything.

    I look forward to reliving that moment with my future children, which hopefully is no sooner than 10 years from now.

  4. Maybe it’s because we just got back from spending some time at the beach ourselves and watching the boys (koji-not afraid of anything, Issei-in need of Tom’s guidance, too) playing in the waves…and then, when the waves got a bit rough, Issei took hold of Koji’s hand. Even though he’s a bit unsure of himself in the water, Issei’s impulse to protect his little brother was incredible. Both Kiyoshi and I were moved.
    An amazing day all over the world.
    Thanks for sharing this Cheri…can I just give you a hug right now?

  5. Beautiful Cheri! Just beautiful! I,too, was waiting for a zinger, not disappointed, though. This made me remember that my dad had some pretty sweet moments, too. Thanks!

  6. Simply beautiful, Cherie. You captured and shared one of those moments in life that lends itself to a lifetime of reverie. Your whole family is commendable. Tom for seizing the moment to make a difference, Laura for making the most of it, and you for appreciating the act and preserving it.

  7. That was so beautiful. And, yes, I am crying! What a lovely scene! My own father died in a car accident on his way home from work when I was 4 1/2 years old, so this piece is particularly poignant for me.

    Excellent writing!

    Thanks for sharing your family with us here.

    So glad you broke the rules, even though there were none!

  8. Beautifully written. Thank you for letting us into that intimate, proud moment with your family.

    And it is a wonderful tribute to your love and trust in your husband. What a team.

    Over from David’s.

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