My father loved the Hamptons.
One tranquil spot nestled between East Hampton and Amagansett in particular. Set back off a dirt road amongst the woods, a secluded house with its shady pool offered welcome respite after the thunderous magnificence of a day by the ocean.
My father had long known of the towns at the end of Long Island but I don’t think he ever dreamt that some day he would be spending his summers out here. And he was so thankful, so appreciative and grateful for every long warm day, to be standing on the surf gazing at the splendor of the beach or experiencing the heartbeat of each individual village while all the time unobtrusively enfolding his family in his love.
Watching the milestones of his grandchildren’s achievements pass with each new summer’s day. He encouraged and praised them. As my then youngest struggled to complete her first length of the pool, he was at her side:
“Go Livvy, you can do it!”
Reading quietly, spectacles perched on the bridge of his nose, at the wrought iron table on the deck; The Kite Runner a holiday snap records as his book of choice. I wonder if he finished it? I am sure he did. No thought then that it might be the last book he read. It wasn’t but one of the last I assume. Makes you wonder as you lie on the beach flicking the pages of a People magazine or the latest bestseller, whether they are worthy of the time. What would you choose to be your last reading material? But that isn’t what most of us are thinking as we broil in the scorching heat of an August sun, our tans deepening to caramel. We are just luxuriating in the seemingly endless days of summer.
The days in reality are not endless and even the ocean and the sky, ancient trees and pastoral fields only reflect our little lives with each year that passes, appearing constant as they outlive us. Yet if it were all to be swept away, the land and the sea and the sky would remain and so in some way would we. All that brought us to these East End shores, all the love and happiness, joy and delight of our days could not be blown away.
Equally in the moment of the actual wonderful summer days in which we exist, all the infinite possibility of our future stretches out like a never ending meadow so that even if one of us should be removed from the picture too soon and devastation of a grief stricken family left in it’s wake, as it was when my father died, there is still hope.
One Saturday lunchtime a year or so after my father’s death, my mother and I sat on the terrace of Easthampton Point enjoying the glorious sunny day despite the shadow cast over our spirits. We sipped on a Wolffer rose and nibbled on a plate of chili calamari. We were for the time being peaceful, content to simply enjoy our surroundings absorbed in our own thoughts.
“Your father loved it here.” My mother said at last
A familiar lump rose in my throat constricting my breath and promising inevitable tears.
“I know” I mumbled.
Just then, the background music we had not even registered as playing, changed to a Frankie Vali number rarely if ever heard these days.
“She-e- e-e-e-e-ry baby She-e-rry, can you come out tonight?”
I looked at my mother. I could see she was stunned. It was their song. The song of the fourteen and eighteen years old Cheryl and Ed at the beginning of their romance; the start line of of their fifty-year journey together. Just an inkling of the possibility of me and my sister and the future generations that would be realized.
Nothing is a coincidence and that day in the Springs, the Heavens gave us a sign, acknowledging there is more than our memory of a man who glimpsed the eternal nature of the Hamptons and of precious time with family. A hint of the possibility that there is more than we know. The past and the present collided and the everlasting and all compassing nature of the Universe was revealed.
My mother and I smiled incredulously across the table at each other
“He heard you” I giggled.
That afternoon in the Hamptons we were blessed to feel my father’s presence once more and to hold him a little closer in our hearts.