Grandson is back home in New Mexico. He’s 12. He decided he wanted to come East, by himself, no Mom, no teenage sisters. He made his specific plan and it called for a stay of exactly one month and one week. No more, no less. He managed to stay two full weeks to the day, although it seemed much longer.
I should mention off the top that he is a fish, a lover of water. Back home, which is high desert mountain habitat, he will shower for hours, unless someone remembers where he is and urges him out before he runs the water supply dry, a carry-over from babyhood, when he’d scream his head off if removed from his tub in the sink until he was ready, which he never was.
He’s also smart and wise, a regular 3,000-year-old pint-sized comedian, although he is in the middle of a growth spurt, so we’ll soon have to think of some other way to describe his exquisite timing. He’s quick. And he cusses. Plus, we learned we have to make fair and square deals with him to get him off the Xbox. “Fair” and “square” being within his sole province to define. We kept our word — use the Xbox moderately and we’ll take you to the beach everyday — but never knew if he kept his unless we woke up in the middle of the night and went to check on him, which was difficult. A day at the beach is exhausting to some folks of certain age.
“You must wear shoes in the water to protect your feet from rocks,” we told him.
“I’m from the Wild West, Grandma. I’m tough enough and I don’t need shoes on my feet to go in the water.”
Sorry. We forgot. Of course he didn’t need shoes. He never seemed to need or even like them from way back. As a toddler out on a car ride with family, he was known to throw his shoes out the window when no one was looking.
Of course, he loves and trusts us, or he never would have come. But it is the eastern Long Island beach and gentle water that tugged at his soul and pulled him East. What he doesn’t know, and what we decided not to discuss with him now, is that he really came for healing.
Grandson agonizes still from the loss of his dad three years ago in a motorcycle accident. His Tewa culture offers one Healing Way, and his Shinnecock, another.
The power to heal body wounds and blows to the spirit is alive in our waters: the ocean, Heady Creek, Shinnecock Bay, the Peconic. It is what we were taught. It is what we know. It is what he now knows, too. We are certain he figured it out.
We sent him back home, Southwest Business Class. “And don’t order any drinks with your free beverage pass,” we joked. “Cranberry juice.”
He grinned and waved goodbye.