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CIA = Courage In Action


Last fall I flew to Kona, HI to join a friend Lybby in her families condo; and by join I mean crash. Also, my parents came along, because if I’m going to poach a sweet vacay spot, I’m bringin’ the fam along. Plus, I’m their favorite daughter, so I kind of have to keep up the charade. Also they fly for free because I work for the airlines; which might explain why I’m their favorite daughter.

I never did adjust to the time change in Hawaii, and after an especially sleepless night, I got up before dawn to walk along the edge of the dark rocky cliffs and watch the sun rise. It’s worth noting I tried particularly hard not to get distracted taking pictures of the rising sun, and fall off the dark cliffs into the equally dark sea, I’m thoughtful like that.

Plus transporting bodies is a pain.

I was far enough up the curving path, to look back and see across the enclove of churching waves, see my father slip from the condo, wordlessly close the sliding glass door and walk into the calm of early morning dawn. I stopped moving, and watched him wandered from the patio, to a nearby picnic table by the edge of the ocean, where he sat down on the bench, and surveyed the great density of the sea. Then he took off his baseball hat, bowed his head and offered what I instinctively knew was a prayer. I remember being struck by the tangible power of example. My father didn’t even know I was awake, let alone watching him.

Pretty much I have mad stalker skills.

Spencer, Me and Logan with my dad. Summer 2016

While witnessing this moment of unabashed reverence, I was reminded again how fortunate I’ve been to have a father like my dad, and a mother like my mom. Watching him in the predawn dark, made me think back to all those long ago winter mornings of my childhood. Mornings when I’d stumble up the stairs from the cold of my basement bedroom still weak with sleep, dragging my blanket behind me as I climbed. I knew I’d find my dad, knew he would be there in his underwear, kneeling in front of the brick fireplace steadily blowing life into the beginning sparks of a new flame.

I climbed because I knew when I reached him, I would be warm.

As I started making my way back down the path again, I thought how fatherhood doesn’t always get the credit it deserves, when in fact it is as sacred and honorable as motherhood.

Okay. Okay. Let’s not get crazy here. Have you seen how many stretch marks I have? Look, it’s not a contest, I mean yes, someone has to be the gold medalist even if it by 1/100 of a second . #momsforthewin 🙂

I stopped again, knelt to pull a pebble from my sandal, and carelessly tossed it into the sea. I watched the ripples widen and bob, the ever widening rings radiating from the area of impact, and steadily making their way back towards the shore, to lick the rocks like ice cream, lap the sweet frothy cream of the shore.


The ripple effects of my dad’s example caught me long ago, lulled me into a slow steady pattern of progress, kept me bobbing along on the ever widening rings of influence. His steady momentum pulls me like the tide, tugging at my heart with a gravitational force that seems inbred, second nature, instinctual. I understand now how exhausting it is to be a parent. I know the way your muscles can cramp from endlessly treading the murky water of responsibility. How your shoulders ache from constantly tossing the life saver towards the waves. The stabbing pain of overexertion, of rescuing would be sailors who keep testing the water.

My father. My mother, my captains, they taught me that this is what you steward over a vessel; you keep track of your crew, teach them about the dangers of swimming alone, and never stop scanning the waves for signs of a sailor in distress.

I’m certain my father, like me, like all of us, had moments when all he wanted to do was drift away from the chaos of the reef and just be. Believe me. I have four brothers, who can only be described as spirited. Not to mention, me. 

But my father has kept swimming, and so too must I.

I will follow his lead, and stop fighting the waves so hard, learn to allow the swells to move me. I won’t forget to come up for air, and I’ll remember to look up; to smile into the bright sun; even when the ocean tastes as salty as tears.

My father is a CIA agent. He’s got some mad skills.

No, he’s not a spy.

Or maybe he is, but hasn’t told me yet because he doesn’t want to have to kill me. He’s nice like that.

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