Grandpa’s Skipping Rocks

This is the time of year in the Jewish calendar that is one of reflection and remembering. This is a short piece I wrote about my Dad before he died in April of 2009 on the 4th day of the Omer. He wasn’t Jewish, but I am. I thought of all the things that he did that made a lasting impression and changed my life. This short piece is a way of thanking him.

Grandpa’s Skipping Rocks

Just today I was thinking about my father.

When I was a small child my father would take me by my hand. We would we would walk to the beach across the road from our home. Walking along the beach we would collect shells, poke horseshoe crabs and look for smooth rocks. Sometimes my brother would come with us, sometimes not.

My father would take my hand and we would walk and talk. We would ,as we were walking along , stop and sit for a while, watching the water. Then we would get up and my father would take my hand and we would stand at the edge of the water. It would lap at our toes, swirl around the back of our heels, sinking our feet deep into the sand.

Opening our bag of rocks my father would reach in, take one out and with one flick of his wrist, his thumb and index finger curled just so around the edge of the smooth flat rock, make that rock hit the water just so. It skipped once, twice, even three times. Amazing! Through the salty water, through the waves, through smooth water, through rough water. Skip, skip, skip, skim, skim, skim glide, glide, glide. Rocks for skipping, rocks for skimming, rocks for gliding.

Falling gently to the bottom.

When we were done we would collect our bag of shells and go home, leaving our rocks on the bottom, walking away.

I taught all my children to skip rocks. They would all skip rocks, let them all fall to the bottom and then go to look for more rocks to skip. Scurrying like hermit crabs all over the beach to find the flattest, smoothest rocks for skipping.

But not so my youngest. “No, no, no these are Grandpa’s skipping rocks. He found them for me.” And she would go in and get them time after time. That one trip to the beach with Grandpa we loaded the skipping rocks into the back of the car and forgot about them.

“Where are my Grandpa skipping rocks?”

We did not visit for a long time. When we went to see Grandpa we of course went to the beach. He opened the trunk of the car, “What is this,” he exclaimed in surprise. Things were always new and surprising for Grandpa. “Oh, look here! Here are Emma’s skipping rocks! I thought we had lost them, but they are just where we put them!”

With Grandpa.

We took them home.
Now they sit quietly on the shelf.
Waiting to be picked up.
Waiting to be skipped.
This time I will let them fall gently to the bottom.

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