Voices on the Wind Voices in Tribute
Sea Save by Leslie Clark I donít know how old I was then, seven, maybe, entranced by the ocean. One day I floated on my sea-blue raft in my azure one-piece swimsuit, only my tanned arms, legs and face a contrast in the monochromatic scene. I was drowsing, cherishing the sun as it caressed my back, lulled by the Atlanticís whisper and gentle rocking beyond the breakers, never realizing that I was almost out of sight of the gossiping adults on beach blankets. Distant shouts bolted me upright and I saw the shore far away, my family mere dots with gesticulating limbs I desperately paddled, my flailing ineffectual against the current. Then a person I identified by her dark cap of hair as my mother plunged into the waves, her strong arms evenly stroking, her powerful legs churning the seaís surface. I was sobbing by then, aware of possibly being beyond reach of rescue, of drifting alone into the unknown beyond. After what seemed like hours, she came within reach of the raft. Honey, are you okay? she gasped, while treading water to catch her breath. Speechless with tumultuous emotion, all I could do was nod. After a while, her breath evened. She grasped the raftís rope and slowly but powerfully towed me in, her sidestroke just as commanding as the crawl she used on her way out. I was awed by her fortitude, her determination, her willingness to save me from my own heedless act. I was convinced then that she was a marvel, a heroine disguised in a third grade teacherís unassuming form. I held that belief for years, until in my teens I realized she was human, with all the foibles we possess. She fell for a sleazy con man, tearing our family apart and for a while, I lost respect for this amazing woman. It took years for me to gain it back, as I witnessed her struggle to survive the aftermath of her ill-fated romance and carry on, in spite of financial and emotional turmoil. By then, unbeknownst to any of us, she had only a couple of decades left on earth. Her sudden passing left me with immeasurable regret for the time we had spent estrangedó in geographical distance and emotion. Now, years later, I smile when I glimpse echoes of her face and form in my mirror, and can only hope that her unvanquished spirit carries on as well.