Sitting at a restaurant overlooking the hotel pool, I noticed a middle aged woman well passed her "body building years" seated in the shade of umbrellaed table watching her ten or twelve year old son, I assume, splashing alone in the pool. Thoughts raced in my head, concocting scenarios of a lone mother and child.
Where was the father? MIA from a foreign conflict? A deadbeat dad running from his own realities? A marriage gone horribly wrong? A woman hoping to save her marriage with a pregnancy, or, simply, a working weekend where the father was upstairs catching up on his paperwork?
It took me back to the crazy days of my advertising career, when we would skip town and visit anywhere, for any reason, just to get away. For me, it was to get away from all nighters, deadlines, and wrestling with my own demons in addition to being a good husband and father. I am sure my wife had her many reasons for a getaway trip.
Like most kids do when there's a chance of a party in a pool, our son's first thought, besides where the next baseball game would be, was where's the pool. Many times, he spend a good portion of his pool time alone splashing around and begging me, or his mother, to return to the water to frolic. The few times we would return home to join my brothers and sisters at a local hotel, Brian was in heaven jumping off the high dive attempting to catch a nerf ball thrown to him as he leaped off the diving board into the water.
He would play this and other games of skill, with my family, in the water for hours.
Brian was an only child. I never felt bad about that, having been the eldest son with five other siblings. With my own business, usually working at home, I had the unique opportunity, unlike many fathers, of spending many hours enjoying his company. It wasn't until one day well into his adolescence, he told me how lonely he was a child.
It never occurred to me.
Having lost our son to a mental illness, I see things that remind me the bittersweetness of life. Like the mind of an artist, who never stops observing, I am constantly being thrown into an emotional abyss by the everyday scenes that remind me of our lives together. It has been two years, now, and I am slowly learning to cope with it.
My thoughts meander and, as I finish my breakfast, I return back to earth. It was then, that I noticed the mother, once seated with her coffee, wrapped a towel around her waist, and walked towards the pool to be the little boy's only playmate.
Going for a ride on the woman's back, splashing around and giggling, it all seemed enough for him... for now!
Copyright 2015/Ben Bensen III