His Love of the Sea

By Joyce Amaro, LA Stormwater

“Pssst! It’s time to wake up!” Daddy whispered, as he gently nudged me and my sister awake. I slowly opened my eyes and saw that it was still dark outside. Half-awake, we quietly dressed in the dim light and made our way outside and into the crisp morning. I could smell the ocean in the air as we walked through the motel’s sandy hallways and onto the beach. The cool, damp sand between my toes made me shiver with anticipation as we walked side-by-side to the water’s edge. Our morning beachcombing adventure had begun! As the sun rose in the east, my sister and I collected seashells while Daddy trailed behind us, picking up any trash he came upon. We girls returned with fistfuls of sand dollars. Daddy’s hands and pockets were filled with discarded bottles, wrappers and cans.

As we celebrate Father’s Day and I think back to the times I cherished most with my father, I realize that many of them involved the ocean. Daddy, who was a lieutenant commander in the Navy during World War II, loved the sea. He would entertain us with stories of his life aboard a troop transport ship in the South Pacific, and I can only imagine how fascinating the ocean must have been for him, a young man who grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois during the Great Depression. After the war, he chose to remain here in Los Angeles with the Pacific Ocean less than a half hour away. One of Daddy’s last visits to the ocean was a trip to San Pedro in 2002 to see the tall ships sail the harbor.

Family_on_beachGrowing up, our family would visit the now closed Terminal Island Naval Station in Long Beach monthly. We’d go to do our grocery shopping at the Commissary, but Daddy always insisted on ending our visit with a drive down to the end of the breakwater where we would sit and watch the waves crash on the rocks and laugh at the seals playing in the harbor. Summers always meant a few trips to Southland beaches where my sisters and I would frolic in the waves and delight in finding sand crabs. Santa Monica. San Juan Capistrano. Oceanside. These were the favorite beaches of our family. And then there were our annual Spring Break trips to the Northshore Naval Base on Coronado Island. Before dawn every morning, Daddy would roust my sister and me – my mom and youngest sister opted to stay snuggled in their beds – and the three of us would trek down to the water’s edge to explore the shore.

I understand now from where my love of the ocean comes. Thank you, Daddy, for quietly modeling a love and concern for the ocean. You showed me the simple joy of walking along the shore at daybreak. You demonstrated the responsibility that we all share in keeping the ocean clean by picking up trash instead of shells. You taught me the power and magnitude of the ocean with your Navy stories. You’ve been gone for several years now, but I still think of you every time I explore tide pools, dig for sand crabs, or pick up a piece of trash on the beach. Daddy, you may be gone but your love and stewardship of the sea lives on in me!



Comments (2)

  1. Avatar for LA Stormwater
    June 12th, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    What a great legacy your dad left for you and your sisters! It’s awesome that you are able to remember him each time you enjoy the ocean. We all miss him!

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