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An Old Man's Last Wave


My shriveled body is done but my smile thrives. Sometimes I remember friends and family and sometimes I don’t. All I talk about are waves. Everyone knows my Makaha story better than me.

The doctors say I don’t have much time: Fucken cancer. Fucken arthritis. Fucken dementia. My fucken back.

Fuck. I had a rad life—but it’s time to go.

Family and friends watch the swell forecasts until the conditions are perfect. Everything has come together just for me.

We bounce along in a boat with me strapped into a padded seat. It wasn't easy with my frail bones, but those who love me squeezed me into a wetsuit. A jet ski tails us weaving in and out of our wake. The boat slows and everyone stares at the moving mountains, their gasps drowned by the water’s thunder.

A man and woman help me onto a dished out surfboard, one made for an old man’s last ride. Their touch and the glint in their eyes triggers something in me.


“I’m proud of you,” I smile.


“We’re proud of you too,” they respond.


“Have I told you about Makaha?” I ask.

“Yeah Dad.”

“And what about those long lefts in Peru?”

“Peru! Where’s Peru? Have I been there? Makaha!” I cackle.

I don’t have the strength to grip a tow-rope so a quick release mechanism is attached to the board and there are two handles for my shaking hands. All I have to do is click the release when I’m in the sweet spot. It's something I thought of decades ago.

My kiddos modified the release mechanism further so they can release me at the right time with a remote. I hear crying, but mostly hooting and hollering as my son guns the ski. My daughter raises her fist as she looks off the back.

Cold spray hammers my face and I can’t stop laughing. I arch my back for one last look at my kids before they whip me into a beast. Everything is clear out here away from the bed and the pain that consumed me over the years.

I sweep right fading into the power before leaning and pulling to the left. No way I’m going right on my last wave!

My legs haven’t worked for years but I am standing. There is the wind in my face and the chatter of my board. A curtain of water forms and I point the board down the line and believe. I’ve always believed.

And then there is darkness and light at the same time.

#Surfing

©2019 by Ryan Chin

"Sharing stories reminds me of lessons I've already learned..."

RYAN CHIN

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