There was noise in the busy restaurant all around me as I opened the box. But I didn’t hear it.
My Mother leaned in over the table and said, “He picked it out himself.”
I smiled as I examined the silver cross with my fingers and then felt his hand gently on my right shoulder.
“Congratulations,” he said. “I love you.”
Besides a cellophane-wrapped box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, smaller than my Mother’s, my father had never given me a gift just from him.
I sat there with everyone talking around me as we waited for our food, and the memories filled my head…
We drove for about 15 minutes in my father’s old pick-up truck with my sweaty legs glued to the vinyl seat. We bumped over old roads, my body sandwiched between mom and dad, our sticky skin, touching and bouncing as we rode. The breeze coming in through the open windows was hot and salty. The swimsuit strap on my neck, rubbed against my sunburn.
“We’re here!” Daddy said and I felt the familiar sting as I peeled my legs from the seat in anticipation. He had told me we were going somewhere that I would really like. He said we just had to walk a little bit as he pointed in front of him, leading the way down a sandy hill, tall grass still blocking my child-height view.
As I crested the dunes I saw it spread out before me like a table of shells – so many different kinds, ready for my perusal. Kicking off my flip flops, I ran down the sandy hill and soon I couldn’t walk without my feet touching them. They were literally everywhere. Pink, peach, blue, grey and white – lilac even. All different shapes and sizes. I wanted to pick up every single one but Dad gave me a bucket and said, “Just pick the ones you like the most.”
I spent some time combing through the sand and picking my favorites, putting sea water in the bucket so I could see their true colors, marveling at the beauty of my best picks.
Back at our little beach cabin I placed my shell collection on the tacky shell motif bedspread and smiled at how many gorgeous and unique ones I had chosen. I couldn’t wait to take them home with me and show my friends.
The next day as Daddy and I made our way out into the surf one last time I gave him a big hug and thanked him for taking me out to “shell beach” as we now called it. He had made one of my dreams come true, always knowing how much I liked shells…
He also helped my dream of a college degree come true and here we sat, at my graduation party, my new necklace already clasped around my neck. I would think of our times at the beach together every time I put it on, especially our jaunt to shell beach.
A small token maybe, but that necklace is something that I still wear today to remind me of his unique and unconditional love for me, his only daughter.
This was written for this week’s memoir post at The Red Dress Club in which we were given the prompt of SAND.