These are my memories. These and posing as he took photos of me next to the sign post at Amy’s Lane or in the beach grass as the sun set or in a captain’s hat on the walkway to the ocean that summer we spent at the pink rental house on Marine Boulevard, the one where Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe once stayed. He snapped photos of my sister, cousin, and me in face paint at the L.V.I.S. fair inEast Hampton, and made sure our red, white, and blue outfits were caught on film before he let me sit on his shoulders to watch the parade inSouthamptonon the Fourth of July.
Lucy will have the photos, but she will only hear these stories from me. Right now, at five months old, she has no idea what she lacks. But one day, she will. She may feel as I do when I see happy grandparents on vacation with their grandchildren: wistful, sad, a little jealous.
But, for right now, this is her first summer by the sea, and, for her, it is untainted by loss. I hope she grows to love this spot as much as her mom does, and I hope it helps her to understand the grandpa she won’t meet – a man who loved the waves, the fish, the breeze, the light, and the family who inhabit this corner ofLong Island’s south shore each summer.
When Eric, Lucy and I walk back from the beach, shaking the sand off before we go inside the house, my aunt pulls me aside. “Is it hard to be here?” she asks, concerned. She admits that she is feeling sad this summer, that the house does not feel the same.
While I do feel my father’s absence, I do, I also cannot think of anywhere else he loved to be more, of anywhere else where I can still feel so close to him.
So, no, it isn’t hard to be out here at all.
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