Trailing behind the rest of the family, we’d stop to gather stones at our feet. The waves would crash and scurry back to sea, proving the warning signs concerning the undertow were not in vain.
He had an eye for the pretty ones; some marbled red and brown, others embellished in ribbons of gold.
And then there were the moonstones…
They were milky white, plain-jane rocks before thrown into his magic machine. They tumbled for hours, then emerged as cloudy glass, their true beauty revealed.
* * * * *
In the heat of a summer’s day in Bakersfield, my bare legs stuck to the vinyl seat of the bean bag chair positioned between the 2 front seats of the van. I have a vague recollection of arriving at the park and sifting through the herds of families positioning themselves into their fishing spots. A few hours casting out had felt like an eternity to me then (time is so different when you are 10!)
When we got back to the house, Grandma, in her red and white gingham blouse, had started the griddle out on the lanai. Our catches of the day probably didn’t measure more than 4″ each, but boy were they good! Fried fish tasted so much better when you caught it yourself!
* * * * *
“There’s one!” He pointed high above my head. He kept the ladder sturdy as I kept ascending. I reached for the red bulb topped in a miniature crown- -it teased me as it dangled mid-air. The gratification of harvest burned in me.
Later on, after the baskets were brimming, we’d sit on the living room floor and pluck red seeds from the white flesh of the fruit. Each tiny one encased with a miniscule, delicious drop of sweet juice. To this day, I cannot taste a pomegranate without thinking of him.
* * * * *
All of these memories are of my grandfather, “Papa” as we called him. He was the thin man with bad knees and a heart of gold. He loved to laugh, he loved his family and he loved the Lord. He sang in the church choir. He loved to fish and loved to collect rocks.
I am so grateful that he chose include me in some of his favorite activities.
Papa passed away a few weeks ago, just shy of his 90th birthday. I will miss him, but I am SO glad that I was lucky enough to have a relationship with him.
I have a bag of his rocks now, hand-picked and tumbled by him; many of which he prepped for jewelry making.
My mom just celebrated her birthday, and I thought a great way for her to remember Grandpa would be to have some jewelry made out of his beach rocks.
I always loved gathering stones with him, and I don’t plan on giving up the hobby anytime soon.