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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Bitter and Sweet (05/28/09)

TITLE: Sunshine
By dub W


It was late afternoon and the sun had settled into a "just before dusk" glow. I had perched myself in a gazebo, my wife, two sons, and five grandchildren were making their way through the soft sand, their footprints filling in quickly with each step. I leaned against a post. Memories of days gone by filled my head; thoughts of running to the ocean and my grandmother calling after me, “don’t go in the water yet. Wait for us.”

The memories are bitter/sweet. I loved the beach and embraced the ocean and the sun with zeal of a great politician before a welcoming crowd. We had no sun-block then, and if it had been invented, it was not apparent in our part of the world. My grandchildren were so covered up they would slide off sandpaper.

I blinked with the salt air and moved to not be in the sunlight. How I would have loved to be with the kids, in the surf, building castles, catching crabs and starfish. But, alas the sweet dream ended in a flash of dermatology and now even greater, deeper malignancies. The sun which had been my sweet retreat during my youth was now bitter, sour, and a villain. Even with creams and long sleeves, the tissue on my skin, and now in my body is being eaten away by a disease caught fifty years earlier.

The paradox, I probably won’t die from the surgeries or other tortures invented by man. Instead I am sentenced to watch my grandchildren enjoying the surf. Their sweet laughter echoes in the wind. And for an other moment, I lose my sensibility and consider doffing my floppy hat and sleeves and running to the ocean for a headfirst dive.

A man from Minnesota walked by and told me to watch out for the rip tides. I wanted to scream, “I wanna be pulled out to sea on a rip tide!” Below me, watchful eyes of adults were not letting the grandchildren get more than their feet wet. At some point the kids would be pulled in and another oiling will take place.

The protective oil on my face and arms felt like a covering of axel grease. I pulled my hat down a little further in the back. It wasn’t long ago that a surgeon took a small tumor out of my upper back. There’s another one there, but the surgeon will not take it out until later this summer.

I was in charge of the cooler. A dubious honor with one major benefit; I thought I would get first dibs on the sodas. I had to move the collection of jewelry, watches, and what-nots just to pop open the cooler. But, the minute I did it was like an alarm going off. Five grandchildren were standing around me. I gave each their drink, and settled for a bottle of water. Just watching the kids frolic made the water as sweet as any soft drink.

I guess God created little children to keep we old folks from feeling bitter and sorry for ourselves. Wouldn’t it be horrible if the world were made up of sour old folks like me. God put the sweet children there to temper our silliness.

As official time keeper, I also was in charge of notifying everyone that we needed to leave in order to get home for dinner at a reasonable hour. I finally caught the attention of my wife, who in turn began herding the family toward the water hose for the sand and salt wash off.

The kids chattered all the way home. Angels singing could be no sweeter. I wonder if I sounded the same to my grandparents, fifty-plus years ago.

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This article has been read 595 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 06/08/09
Love the voice, and especially the paragraph that begins with the paradox. Unique approach to the topic--well done.
Carol Slider 06/08/09
Beautiful, sweet... and a little scary, too. Well done.
Virgil Youngblood 06/08/09
Thanks for sharing a tender story. I have just joined "the club" with you, in a minor way, I think, and see changes a-coming. Maybe that means I can be in charge of the cooler. I appreciate your outlook.
Dee Yoder 06/09/09
Oh man. This is so lovely. It brought tears to my eyes, but also a smile. What a circle of life you described here. And that caution...it's worth it! Keep it up and keep smiling at those precious grandkids. That last line brought a huge lump to my throat.
Mona Purvis06/09/09
The bittersweet comes through in every line. I can tell it is something you are living, but you shared with the reader and it is a thought-provoker.
Colin Swann06/10/09
Rich and interesting story - very meaningful. Enjoyed very much. Thank, Colin
Beth LaBuff 06/10/09
I enjoyed your descriptions of the sunblock. Your love for your grandchildren radiates through your writing.