Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy Claims Eddie

My Dad woke me up in the middle of the night to see the wind. It was August 9th, 1976. I was six years old and experiencing my first hurricane on Long Island. We had a fairly large backyard for Long Island standards. It was the neighborhood soccer field and kick ball court with all my friends. There were two tall, skinny trees spaced perfectly that we used for soccer goals. 

 We stood at the back sliding glass door that had a huge X taped across it with duct tape, probably not the best idea during a hurricane. The trees would sway and bend in the wind with sheets of rain pelting the glass. As the eye of the Belle came on shore just ten miles away, I remember a minute long wind gust that raised the hair on the back of my neck. The trees were no longer swaying, they were just being pushed in to an unnatural position like a bully pinning a scrawny kid to the ground. They bent further and further until one of our soccer goals snapped in half five feet off the ground. 

 As a six year old there are things in life that just exist without question, like trees. They're massive, immovable objects that hurt when you run in to them. I speak from experience. So to see one tossed around like a rag doll and then snap in half was both sad and terrifying. Several other trees of the same size did not fall, but they developed large humps at their base which we used for years as ramps with our bicycles. They no longer stood straight up. After Hurricane Belle, things that seemed as concrete as the ground beneath my feet, were no longer guaranteed to last forever. 

 In 2001, I was taught that same harsh lesson again. My father, Eddie, who was stronger than any tree and more solid beneath my feet than Mt. Everest, passed away from Esophageal Cancer. He was pushed and bent by the cancer, much like the tree in my backyard, until he broke. We were left to pick up the pieces, especially my Mother, Sandy. 

 It is now eleven years since he passed, and although we've picked up the pieces, the scars of that storm will last forever. As a tribute to my father, my sister Caren had a bench placed on the boardwalk in her hometown on the Jersey Shore. It sits facing the ocean and watches every sunrise. It's a solid bench made of wood and concrete. It has sat their peacefully since 2008. 

 As Hurricane Sandy churns just off the Jersey Coast today, the fate of my Dad's bench is in jeopardy, as is the entire boardwalk the entire length of the Jersey Shore. It's ironic that the only thing that can move my Dad from the boardwalk is named Sandy.

1 comment:

Rich said... made me cry.

Love, Richie

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