Have you ever watched the sandpipers at Marina Del Rey? Their little bird heads bob back and forth. The thinnest bird legs you’ve ever seen move them quickly across the sand.
All kinds of boats paraded by making their way slowly up the channel, seemingly unnoticed by the sandpipers. It was the mysterious Mauretania that really caught my eye. It was from another time.
I pictured Bogie and Bacall at the piano bar below. I can see Tracy and Hepburn looking out over the stern. Fred and Ginger dancing and singling their way around her romantic deck. I can hear Norma Shearer’s laugh echoing from the quarter deck.
I could see my dad on the Mauretania. Wearing a soft white skipper’s cap with a shiny black brim. Sharp white trousers and deck shoes. He was a snappy dresser. In my mind’s eye, he looked the same as he did in the pictures I remembered of him on his family boat going up and down the Hudson.
Dad during the Depression cleaning the twin engines. Skippering the boat for party rentals. He, grandpa and family out on the boat. He seemed happier then. I never knew him that way. My memories of him were better in pictures.
After making its way past me through the channel, the stately Mauretania turned out to sea. I watched her until she was no longer in sight. I sighed, paused, and reflected. So many mixed memories.
When my dad had nothing left ahead of him, he moved to Nyack where he could see the Hudson from his apartment. I think he was trying to recapture the joy of life that somehow evaded him. He died there.
I turned and started to walk back to the car. But movement on the sand caught my eye. Those little sandpipers were still at it! I smiled at them. Nothing would alter their quick pace or keep them from their destiny.