This photo is from 1972. I’m in the baseball cap, with my brother and cousins, and it reminds me that my grandfather, and his 10 siblings, had a deep spiritual connection to the ocean. He spent his whole life a short drive from South Padre Island, in Texas, and went there to swim and fish, frequently.
We enjoyed many family outings along that shoreline.
As we would load the car, ready to go home, my grandfather would always take one last deep-water swim. He was an excellent swimmer, but watching him, beyond the breaking waves, worried me. I can still see his head bobbing up and down in the calm waters beyond the white-capped waves.
Early one Saturday morning, he picked me up, in his 1968 Chevy light-green truck, and we drove out to the beach. He was very quiet, pensive and I assumed we were going to fish. He drove to the edge of the water, took a number 5 metal washtub out of the truck bed, and filled it with ocean water. He carried that heavy tub back to the truck, and we headed home. I didn’t ask what or why, and was just content to be a 6 or 7 year-old kid, alone with my grandfather.
We pulled up to his sister’s house, in the neighboring town, and he brought the tub of sea water to her bedside. She was ill, and in pain. He placed the tub on the floor, and said, “Aquí te traigo agua de TU mar.” Translation: I’ve brought you water from YOUR ocean.
The agonized look of pain on her face, as he helped her drop her legs over the edge of the bed, followed by a soothing look of relief, as her feet were embraced, caressed by the ocean water, remains a clear memory.
I witnessed the depth of love my grandfather had for his sister, and I learned that the ocean will always be a key to my healing and renewal.
And now you know why I’m grateful to practice bodywork in a space where the view, from the head of the massage table, is an ocean wave.
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