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North American Dreaming: Sunset Point

...We climbed out of the old red and white station wagon and headed for the beach. I stepped on to the sand and I immediately started crying. The sand was extremely hot for my young feet.

Dad, hearing my cries came and scooped me up into his big powerful arms. I stopped crying and a smile came over my face.

For me, this was special moment, you see. My father had a problem with his legs and hips. When he was boy, he had been hit by a car...

Poet William Burkholder, this time working in prose, paints a lyrical portrait of a special day, and a very special father.

When I was a very young lad, my mother and father took me to the shore.

I remember my dad driving along the parkway as my mother and I looked for deer.

After driving for some time, we pulled over to a spot called Sunset Point. We all sat there for a moment taking in the great expanse of Lake Erie, as well as the beauty of the day.

We climbed out of the old red and white station wagon and headed for the beach. I stepped on to the sand and I immediately started crying. The sand was extremely hot for my young feet.

Dad, hearing my cries came and scooped me up into his big powerful arms. I stopped crying and a smile came over my face.

For me, this was special moment, you see. My father had a problem with his legs and hips. When he was boy, he had been hit by a car and as a result developed a bone disease called osteomyolitis. A severe bone infection occurred and the doctors had to remove one of his hips. He was nine years old. However, this setback never slowed my father down.

Being held by my dad, I felt safe, secure, as if nothing could harm me as long as I was in the grasp of those strong fatherly arms.

We reached the water's edge and dad placed me on the cool, wet sand, the calm ripples of water, advancing and retreating over my toes. I looked down and saw a set of footprints leading down the beach. I asked my dad, "Are those Indian tracks?"

My Dad looked down at me, smiling. Not wanting to burst my four-year-old imaginary bubble he said, "Why, they are. Let's follow to see where he went.''

And we started down the beach in search of the Indian that left his tracks at Sunset Point.

A single day, perhaps an hour's time. It happened over forty years ago. I remember as if it were yesterday. The sheer innocence of the moment, the closeness that I felt, and feel,for my father. The sun beating down on me, the cool water lapping at my feet as we walked along that beach, exploring the sands and each other as father and son.

Since then, the waves of Lake Erie have rolled onto that beach countless times. Long ago those footprints were washed away, but the memory of them, and of hat day, will live with me forever.

In June of 2006, my dad passed away. This memory is a small tribute to him as a father, a husband, and a wonderful, strong human being that I had the privilege to call Dad. I will carry this memory and his lessons with me the rest of my life.

Until we meet again Dad, on the beach...

I love you,
your son

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