Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Memory

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away. -- Author unknown

One of my greatest memories is of water skiing. Some of my moments are so memorable. I can see, hear and feel these moments. The clarity is unreal; it feels as though it was yesterday. I find the passage of time incredible. How is it that those moments that took my breath away are etched so vividly in my memory? Some of these special memories or moments took place more than 30 years ago. I can see it so clearly. I feel like I am there right now.

The boat was a powerful Sea Ray. She was an inboard/outboard. She was sleek and beautiful. She was fast. Her name was Tilakama. I have many memories and stories regarding her. She could be a lot of trouble. When she ran as she did on that particular day and many more to follow she was awesome. She brought happiness and joy to our family. Just don't ask Ralph Nader because he got a letter from her Captain, my Dad, which cited her many faults. When she wasn't running it was devastating. That says something about the amount of joy she provided. How could we feel so devastated and disappointed when she could not run?

The time was in the 1970's. The place was Avalon New Jersey. Tilakama was in a slip at our dock behind our summer home. The captain was getting her ready. Items we needed were stowed on board. We were going skiing! Our heading was the ICW, the Intercoastal Waterways, winding through the marsh grass. The air smelled of salt and marsh. The sun was shining the breeze was good. Excitement was in the air. The water was a little choppy that fine day.

We traveled to the area where we wanted to ski. I am not certain if a hat was lost on that particular day. This is where you laugh. The Intercoastal Waterway owns many of my father’s hats. I think they became wonderful homes for the blue crabs resting on the bottom. On rare occasions we caught them with the big aluminum boat hook. On most occasions those wonderful hats sank.

The Captain speaks: “Who wants to go first?" I did not volunteer. I wanted to watch my Dad ski. I hoped he would be first. I wanted to watch. I was the spotter, my favorite position aboard. My Dad, the captain, is going first! Wooohoooooo!

We had two ski ropes, one was a straight bar, the other had two handles and it looked like a giant yellow letter Y. Dad used the Y. I hooked the rope to the boat and let it out carefully making sure it did not catch in the motor as my Dad motored slowly ahead. The rope was out. The motor was shifted to neutral. My Dad pulled out his ski that was stowed inside along the port edge of the boat. He lifted the ski and headed to the stern. He tossed the ski into the water. It made a slap when it hit the water. The ski was heading toward the end of the rope on its own.

There was nothing timid regarding his departure from the boat to the water. He always made a big leap. As he was midair between the boat and the water he would yell:"Geronimo!" A huge splash rippled the water on entry sending water flying up into the air. He would swim swiftly out to his ski and the rope. He quickly put on his ski. He positioned his ski tip between that Y. Then he gave the ready sign. I am responsible to translate his wishes to Rachel. I holler: Ready! The boat pushed from still to fast quickly. My Dad is standing in seconds. I yell:” He’s up!" The first order of business is fixing the trunks. He transfered both handles to his left hand and with the right pulled the legs of his swimming trunks down. The handles then transfer to the right hand and the procedure is repeated. I can see his wonderful smile. A thumb goes up and I yell to Rachel faster! He made goofy faces. There is one that I call a motorboat face. I watch. In retrospect I do not believe I ever saw him give the thumb down sign to go slower. Look what my Dad can do!! He is great! My heart was pounding. I was so happy I was so proud. He cuts through the water. He moves from side to side crossing the wake with his motorboat face. Then he would slice the water with an edge of his ski and make this huge water wall fly in the air by his side. He is so graceful. He is so beautiful. The ski made a slapping sound over the ripples in the water. He took the shock in his legs. He has perfect form. I make a huge circle with my arm up, index finger in the air, to let him know we are turning around. We are making a counterclockwise turn. As we are beginning the turn my Dad moves from the port side of the boat across the wake to the starboard side in the turn. Here he comes! He is going to pass the boat! He lifts the rope high into the air pulling the Y apart. This takes up the slack and the boat again takes the lead. When we reached the position where we started I waited with anticipation. Will he go again or will he quit? I waited for him to raise his arm and make a circle to inform me he wanted to make another run. I wanted to watch him ski forever. I loved when he wanted to make another round. When he was finished his hand moved across his neck and that was the cut sign. That meant he was done. After I received the cut signal I yelled to Rachel: "He's done!" The boat slowed down; he would fling the rope and raise his arms high above his head. He would glide, arms up the whole time, standing as long as he could, slowing, gliding, graceful, down into the water. We would circle the boat around to pick him up and as he was climbing the ladder his smile, his joy, his happiness was palpable. What a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of.

In time I learned to slalom also and I could see the pride in his radiant face and the mist in his beautiful eyes. He was proud of me too!


Blogger Cliff said...

Raggedy, what a wonderful post. I have all of those same memories. Mine were with older syblings. My Dad, born in 1905, and a lifetime on the farm, never skied but he did build a boat and bought us ski's and started our big family toward a lifetime of boating and fishing. Dad was not known as a patient man but he could pull skiers all day long. He loved it.
Thanks again.

June 06, 2006 5:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. I felt like I was there too. That was so well written.

I have moved blogs by the way (

June 06, 2006 7:34 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Memories are such treasures whether they're kept close or remembered later. What an awesome time in your life, I enjoyed reading it. :-)

Have a great day! *HUGS*

June 06, 2006 8:19 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

There was enthusiasm in every line there Raggerdy made for a good post.

June 06, 2006 8:25 AM  
Blogger EV said...

Woo-hoo! Great memories. :)

June 06, 2006 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How upbeat! Isn't it great to make such wonderful memories with the important people in our lives?

June 06, 2006 2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful memory! Enjoyed this post.

June 06, 2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger Vickie said...

Very special memories of your dad, I so enjoyed reading about them.

Yesterday I had some special memoreis of my dad brought back to me in a post and I commented just how special that post was to me for that very reason.

This was such a great post, I felt as if I was right there skiing with you or at least I wanted to be. Thank you so much for sharing those very special memories with us.

June 06, 2006 5:05 PM  
Blogger mrhaney said...

that was a great story and a better is a great thing when a person can remember some time that was spent with their dad. good memories are hard to beat and they are free.

June 06, 2006 7:05 PM  

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