Introducing Maya to a whole new world; the undersea world of snorkelling, and giving my 82 year old dad an experience of something that I absolutely love to do.
In another of my “Tales from the Tropics” I reflect on what it has meant to me as a father and a son to be able to extend my love and influence to two very important people in my world.
As a father…
On our last trip to a tropical beach about 1.5 years ago Maya would only wade into the sea to her mid thighs. Gradually she liked to look at the sea stars and small tropical fish but would not put on a snorkel mask and put her face in the water to see what was there.
I was a bit disappointed. Not in Maya but in what she was missing. Still we did not push her.
Now, in Napili Bay, Maui the snorkelling is quite good and we knew there’d be turtles in the bay. I wanted Maya to see them. Initially, once again, she resisted. She was hesitant because of the deeper water and the waves. Okay. I get it. We need to take this step by step.
First step, walk over to the tide pools to see the small fish and marine life in shallow water. As she saw the colourful sergeant majors, sea urchins, and even a small parrotfish I could see her eyes light up. We came back often.
Second step, while out splashing near the shore and playing with the pool noodle and boogie board, we gradually went deeper and deeper. She felt safe, comfortable.
Next step, to try on the mask and snorkel. This took a bit of convincing. She finally did while lying over the boogie board so she could float. “Hey that’s cool. I can breathe.” So, off we went. Maya lying on the boogie board with her face in the water, Gail on one side, me on the other off to the reef.
As the fish appeared so much larger than the babies in the tide pool I could see Maya’s eyes open even wider. I felt such an intense moment of joy as she took it all in. We pointed out each fish as we saw them, telling Maya their names. Moorish Idol, Sargent Majors, Butterflyfish, Parrotfish, Angelfish, Tangs, Unicornfish, and of course, Humuhumunukunukupua’a (the Hawaiian state fish)! She began pointing as she recognized them.
Then something caught my eye. “Maya’s quickly look right there. Do you see it?” “Yes, what is it?” “An Octopus!” Maya saw an Octopus on her first ever snorkel (I’ve only seen 3 in 25 years of diving and snorkelling). She was hooked!
Her second snorkel… a green sea turtle!
By the end of the trip she was pointing out turtles and sea life for others and even spotted her first eel!
Now Maya, Gail, and I have a shared love of the undersea world that we will treasure for life. Priceless!
As a son…
My dad has been very instrumental in so many things in my life. He is the consummate giver and provider, often self sacrificing in some way as a result. From being an active, sports minded person himself, he taught me to play baseball and hockey, coaching me in both. He introduced me to the outdoor lifestyle, took me on camping trips, fishing trips, and many adventures growing up. From all that my parents gave me I continued forward on my own.
As you know SCUBA diving and snorkelling have become an absolute passion of mine. Neither of which were a part of my dad’s past. When he agreed to join us in Maui I wanted to share some of my passion with him. In part to show him something new, something he has not experienced and in part to simply say thank you for what he has given me in my love of being active and the great outdoors.
Now dad has slowed in recent years and is not as stable or mobile as he once was. He was more than content on sitting on the beach under the shade of a big tree watching Maya splash around and have fun, play a bit with her on the beach, see us head off to snorkel in the distance, or me taking my best shot at stand up paddle boarding in the surf (I’ll save that for another story).
The surge of the tide and current was fairly strong so dad was concerned about going into the water but we convinced him to give it a try. Like with Maya, his stepping out of his comfort zone needed to happen in steps. First was getting stable with the waves crashing in and pulling out with me there to support. Then it was stepping deeper to waist deep and doing the same. Then it was floating with the pool noodle under the arms or leaning on the boogie board. It took courage for dad to try each of these steps. I was proud of him. Not being a strong swimmer he placed significant trust in Gail and I.
We moved out a bit deeper and got dad to put on the mask and snorkel. He was able to put his face into the water and even see some of the reef fish we enjoyed seeing so much. We didn’t make it fully onto the reef and only stayed out a few moments but dad did get a glimpse into a world he hadn’t see like this before. A glimpse into something he influenced his son to pursue and love, without even realizing it.
I’m thrilled my dad was able to see a new part of the world through my eyes. Just for a moment, our roles were reversed. For that I am grateful.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?
Many speak of the challenges of being in the sandwich generation. I understand and empathize with these challenges. I am beginning to experience them.
On this trip I chose to see the opportunities of being in the sandwich generation. Memories that will last a lifetime… three lifetimes in fact! Something that may not have been possible were it not for my healthy, active lifestyle.
“Life is meant to be embraced, enjoyed and fully lived, not merely endured!”
Eat well, be well, stay active!
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