Throughout my adult life, I have had on-and-off routines with my dad where we do things we both like to do and allow us to spend time together. This is mainly around exercise because he is a very active guy and we both love to be outdoors. Although once we decided to take up yoga together…in addition to being very active, my dad is very funny and in the middle of downward dog he would make noises or comments to make me laugh which is frowned upon in yoga. We never went back.
He recently had a knee replacement surgery and he is not very good at the healing process. I don’t mean his body isn’t healing, it is healing fine, he isn’t good at waiting for it to heal and tolerating the pain and discomfort. However he is encouraged to move his knee and walking is good for him. Plus, we all know that exercise is great for the mood, too. My dad loves to walk on the beach. He has a whole routine—much like everything else in his life—it is orderly and specific and only he knows how to do it right. So I just go along for the ride. I decided that a couple mornings a week we would go walk on the beach together. Which means you have to do things his way so I have to wear pants I can roll up because we walk barefoot, wading in the water. He walks with a stick which is also a prop for the lectures he gives me while we walk, shaking it in the air in disapproval of something I have done or to emphasize a point.
So we got to the beach and left our shoes in his car. We walked down the sandy path onto the beach, down to the water, and over to the tide pool because that is where his walk starts. All of this other stuff is just prep for the walk. I had my phone and was snapping photos of sea anemones and sea stars for which I was scolded. “We came to walk! Not take pictures put that thing away.” (That “thing” is an iPhone.)
We walked and talked or just walked together in silence. I heard stories and jokes I have heard a hundred times but have learned to listen. At one point I said “oh my God,” in response to some joke my dad had said and without skipping a beat he said, “oh my Buddha.”
When we walked by a group of ladies he waved his arm in the air to wave, they all smiled and waved back. He makes friends everywhere he goes.
When we finished our walk, we went back to the car and I was given strict instructions to sit in the passenger’s seat and wait for him with my feet hanging out of the car. He came over with a bottle of water he had filled up at home and poured the water over my feet instructing me to rub them together to get the sand off. We have done this for years. I asked him if he wanted me to do the same for him and he told me I didn’t now how to do it, as he threw me an old towel to dry my feet off. He rinsed his feet off in a similar fashion and dried them off with the same towel. I sat in the car thinking of the number of years we have done this. I remember being a kid, before we had discovered that water is better for rinsing sand off than a dry towel which acts like sandpaper against your feet. I remember squealing and complaining as my parents cleaned my feet off before I was allowed back in the car.
Life is strange and can be frustrating. We have expectations of how things should be or ought to be and social media certainly doesn’t help with our expectation management. However, this morning on my walk with my dad and my observations of our interaction, I was just thankful. I was thankful to have the morning walk, thankful for my dad, and thankful to be able to reflect for a moment.
In my reflection, I concluded that today is the first day of autumn. While the calendar says otherwise, today the sunlight changed dramatically. The air was crisp and it was windy. This is my favorite time of year here in Monterey. I hope you enjoy it, too, whether you are here or wherever you are.