Inspired by writing prompt: "A favorite childhood memory that seems like yesterday"
|I wasn't even three years old. I only know that because we left Fairhope shortly before my third birthday, and I haven't been back since. I have foggy little memories here and there, and one came back to me, not long ago. Even my mother thought I was fibbing, till she realized...
"We don't even have pictures of Lee..."
He was enormous - I'm sure more so in my memories than real life - but Momma confirmed his stature when I asked her that day. He was plenty big. He stood there with whitish, wavy hair being toussled in the Gulf breeze, and smiled down at me. I suppose most kids would liken him to Santa Claus, without the beard, but to me, he was just a typical big, southern man.
The next thing I knew, I was no longer staring at knees and flip flops. I was being hoisted into the air, attaching myself quickly to his big broad chest and shoulders. He turned his rosy face to me and smiled, his pale blue eyes twinkling beneath white eyebrows. I was resting comfortably in the crook of his elbow, still not certain about being quite so high in the air... I was just becoming aware of my fear of heights.
The breeze blew a few strands of my light brown hair - bleached by the sun and ocean air - and I admired the man's face, still clutching his wide chest. I was not so aware of who he was, only that he was familiar - not Momma, not Daddy, not brother, not Miss Billie or Scott or Joe... but familiar.
"Lee" was Virgil Lee Statler, and nearly 30 years later, I see his face clear as a bell. I can hear him speaking to me in a lightly babyish voice, but still manly. He was the typical rough neck, salt dog. He looked as if he could tear a building down in a swipe, but at the same time, he was ever so gentle with tiny little me, clinging to him.
He was my father's boss, President of Offshore, Inc. I found recently that he passed a couple of years ago at the age of 80. I nearly cried because I had not taken the time to find him. I never got a chance to see him again or talk to him after that memory resurfaced. I again never got to whisper the little conversations small children do and watch his smile...
We never think of those things as children, that we may not see that person, or how safe they made you feel. Maybe it was his way of saying goodbye, this strange little memory of the gargantuan man with the wavy white locks.
May that ocean breeze carry this note to you, Lee.
Sincerely, Miranda Pace - Daughter of Robert Larry Pace, hard hat diver.