She had to choose.
One foot was on the dock, her other foot on the gunnel of our little sailboat pram that was departing in the gentle breeze.
As the gap steadily widened, I shouted from where I manned the tiller, “Jump! Now!”
With terror etched in her young face, our daughter leapt and landed in an awkward heap next to the mast to which she then clung as if alligators awaited in the dark lake waters below.
Of course, there were no creatures lurking, and no winds blowing, at least not for the moment.
We drifted along dozing in the warm sun until this time it was her turn to shout: “DAD!”
We had passed the lee of the island where the wind changed from breeze to blow and with little warning the tiny sail strained and struggled to pull free from its tethered cleat, water poured into the cockpit as the tipping point drew near, and she instinctively began bailing with her shoes.
I grinned, tipped my head back, shouting to the wind – “WAHOO! We’re s-a-i-l-i-n-g!”
Now, nearly a half-century later, we both recall this adventure with amusement. The day of decision. A choice to be made. And upon what would that choice be based?
I’d like to think my little daughter left the tested stability of the dock to depart for the uncertain and unknown because of her trust in the leadership of her dad, his sailing prowess, and all that.
However, in hindsight, I think it was just gravity.
And when it came to my marriage proposal now over a half-century ago, I’d like to think that she said ‘yes’ because she trusted me.
However, in hindsight, I think it was just gravity. She was Dutch, I was goofy, and goofy and the girl set sail.
She fell into my boat, into my arms, into my heart, into my life and for whatever reason – hopefully trust, certainly trust would build over time – we set sail for the next 50 years on a voyage with no itinerary, just enjoying one another’s company, the port of calls sustaining me now as today I visit the cemetery.