I had a dog in my childhood that lived at my Nanna and Pa’s house. Mum didn't like pets, period. That was a shame, but it made going to my grandparents all that more special and a bit more entertaining. I don't remember Nanna walking the dog, that was Pa's job, especially after his triple bypass. To keep the blood flowing and his mind stimulated Pa would go for a daily walk to the beach, bouncing a tennis ball for mobility and coordination, mind and body working in unison. Pa was enormous, outrageously tall, 6ft something with giant hands, I was always looking way up to meet his eyes.
One day we went for a walk with Penny, the crazy fox terrier, and descended the steep stairs to get to the beach. The tide always felt hectic, out one minute and lapping your ankles the next, it was a cape of geometric diversity and enclaves, Ti Trees interwoven overlooking the water, explosive with natural beauty.
I bounced around the beach chasing the dog and the ball endlessly until this one day when we turned a rocky point to find the beach completely covered in water. Pa was almost 70, he loved an expletive in context, “bugger”, he exclaimed. He had a heart condition to manage but in pure mensch fashion he took me up top to his shoulders, enveloped the dog under one arm and waded through knee deep water so we could climb a cliff wall to escape the rising tide and treacherous waves.
I moved to England in my early 20's, my Pa then was in his late 70's, I knew he was sick and I wrote him a letter of this adventurous memory, the day he saved my life. I wanted him to remember it too because it was our special time, walking, talking...being together.
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