Today Dad’s here but he doesn’t say much. We’ve set up the beach umbrella in the usual place. The kids have wandered off for an ice cream and it’s just us three sitting, gazing, watching.
I feel calm. This feels right. The family had debated the option of setting dad’s ashes free here at Currumbin but there was a stronger draw from across the border in his home land of the Northern Rivers. Nevertheless here we are. It’s a beautiful day. The air is still, the ocean is a mill pond. A perfect winters day.
Not unusually for me I'm mesmerised by the water. I enjoy the light, the constant movement, the air on my body, the feeling of space and an impossibly distant horizon. I'm hypnotised. I yearn to immerse myself in this body of water, this planet before me.
I have an idea. Remembering that Kev was rarely one to say no to a swim, I decide we must indulge one last time together. I tuck him under my arm and head for the wet sand at the edge of the Pacific. I’m thinking he’d probably think this was a bit ridiculous. Certainly the rest of the family do. The ice cream lickers have returned and I’m followed to the water’s edge by pleading voices
“You’re an idiot dad”
“What if you lose him”.
I ignore their sensible comments. I’m planning to be careful.
I get to the edge where the waves lap my ankles and advance and withdraw in ordered lines. There’s a small gutter a few metres off shore and I walk in up to my mid calves. I whisper a few words of encouragement to the box.
“Hold your breath”
“Keep your head down”
“Look out for other surfers”
“Don’t dive in shallow water”
I bend and gently lower the cream plastic container into the water.
Dad seems to have lost some of his buoyancy. As I settle him into the salty brine I withdraw my support momentarily and suddenly he lists to the left. I’m about to panic when he settles, straightens up and is stuck on a sand bar. This is a first for Kev. He would be feeling pretty stupid. Luckily there’s no one to see and I’m not going to tell anyone. I whisper my assurances and we sit for a short time soaking up the sun and the memories.
I turn to see six pairs of eyes glaring at me as if I’ve just committed patricide.
“It’s time to go” they chorus.