When I was growing up we always looked forward to summer Sundays, when my Dad was home from work. I think he loved to swim in the ocean as much as we did. He would put us in the back seat of his red convertible and we’d drive south to the beach. Sometimes my mother came, but more often it was just me and my brothers laughing in the open car with the wind blowing our hair wildly.

He taught me to body surf. To catch the wave when it was just so — about to break and gathering energy for a last crashing run toward shore. It would lift me up and hurtle me forward in a whirlpool of salt and sand. I’d end up sitting in a few inches of water, with sand in my hair and my bathing suit, laughing and wanting more.

I thought, as I got older, that my body surfing days were behind me. But yesterday the pull of the ocean was strong and the water amazingly warm. I went into the water and saw it coming — the perfect wave, small, well-formed, and ready to race the last few yards to the shore. I leaped and surged forward with the water, remembering the glorious feel of the rushing and twirling wave as it deposited me, laughing, on the sand.

My father has been gone 20 years. But my love of the ocean is a gift he gave me that will stay with me forever.

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