Beyond the Breakers by
100
(129 Stories)

Prompted By Swimming

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The sisters in swimsuits 1959

The beach was wide and sandy, the waves broke gently upon it, the sun was hot and water warm.  Waikiki.  My first experience with the ocean.  The three sisters, aged five to eight, rushed nervously into the breakers that pushed and pulled and filled our mouths with salt, and ran back.  Don’t turn your back on the water!  cried my mother from the shore.  My father then waded deeper into water, past the foam, and called us to him.  Stand here and when the swells come, let them carry you up and you can jump the wave.  And like magic, the water didn’t crash over us and tumble us around, it just lifted us up and then down, our toes touching the sand again.  It was wonderful.

And like magic, the water didn’t crash over us and tumble us around, it just lifted us up and then down, our toes touching the sand again.  It was wonderful.

Years later, I was with some high school friends on an empty beach on Assateague, a barrier island off the coast of Maryland.  I had formally learned to swim in a pool and even passed the school lifesaving test, so felt reasonably competent.  The water in the ocean was pretty cold, but we had inflatable cushions.  Run in past the breakers, jump the waves, then clamber onto the floats and enjoy the sweet sun next to one of my friends.  Soon I noticed we were drifting up the beach and getting further from shore so we started paddling back.  Didn’t seem to be making much progress.  Paddle harder. Harder. Harder. Is this what a rip tide is? Don’t panic, keep at it, call out to friends on the beach.  Can they hear?  How long did it take to reach the land—was it forever or just seemed like it?  When we finally staggered ashore, chastened, those who had stayed on the beach seemed oblivious to what we were sure had been a life-threatening experience.  We learned that Nature must be respected.  Of course, like so many other life lessons, we never told our parents.

Profile photo of Khati Hendry Khati Hendry


Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, well written

Comments

  1. Dave Ventre says:

    Learning that what your parents don’t know won’t hurt you is a valuable life lesson!
    I remember doing the float up and back down thing as a little kid!

  2. Thanx for the memory Khati. In my mind’s eye I can see you and your sisters jumping the waves on that Hawaiian beach.

    And don’t we all realize eventually that our parents were right!

    • Khati Hendry says:

      We not only realize our parents were right, but we have them….although I still don’t regret not sharing everything with them. They would have just worried too much. Then again, there is so much I’m sure they didn’t tell me, and I’m curious to know—but never will find out.

  3. Scary! You built up the drama very well; it started out calm and confident, and slowly became threatening.
    You brought back to mind a time I had to be rescued by a boat in South Carolina. I swam out to “rescue” a couple who couldn’t make it through the receding tide. I thought it would be simple. It wasn’t. I couldn’t make it either! Happily, the folks on land could see us and eventually got someone to rescue us.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Yikes! I’m glad you were all rescued! Too many stories out there of rescuers who fall victim to the same peril. In any case, you understand the dangers of those currents, and I certainly learned great respect for the ocean after that day.

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