|photo by Charles Stephen Frank|
I saw a mother rinsing off sand from her three-year old son this afternoon. They were on the edge of the beach on a sand and dirt road. Her beat-up pick-up truck stood sentry to the bathing ritual. It was apparent the boy knew the drill. The mom had a bright orange tub of salt water into which the little boy stepped, naked from head to toe. His fair skin glowed white, blindingly white, in the bright sunshine. His mother was wearing a green beach coverup and a tan sunhat. The boy’s unbridled joy at playing in the makeshift tub elicited feelings of joy, nostalgia and appreciation for how fleet time moves. It has been nearly fifteen years since my son was that age. He adored water. Whether fresh, ocean or chlorinated water, he always submerged himself fearlessly, with eyes wide open. My daughters would complain that their eyes stung, not so my son. His first jump off the Big Bridge into Sengekontacket Pond on Martha’s Vineyard, he bobbed up, with his eyes open, wild with excitement. He swam to the beach and his heart was hammering visibly in his thin chest wall. Life surged through him with every beat. There
are crystalline moments that a mother shares with her son, sometimes of sorrow, as when his best friend moved on when he was seven, and oft times with joy, as when he recently won an award for Best Picture for his second short film in as many years. At age three, seven, seventeen, my son leaves me with memories, layered and rich. He continues to surprise, delight and challenge me with his life journey. Tonight’s surprise? A photograph emailed to me an hour ago -- without explanation. I am left wondering what inspired him? How did he do it? What did he intend? Basically, all the same questions I ask about him about his life.