Ode to a Light Keeper
Waves gently caressed his sodden socked feet, his legs and calves rhythmically rising up and falling down, swaying back and forth on the late morning’s flood-tide, caressing and massaging this lost man of the lights. Coveting him. He was home now. Not the physical, loving human home of his beloved wife and three children, the youngest of which had only months earlier joined his siblings on their independent worldly adventures. Rather, he had relented to the seduction of the sea, becoming a part of her. It is not the destiny of the light keeper to succumb to the sea. Still, life is ever on the precipice for keepers of the lights, teetering that way and this. A lifetime of implementing the skills of forbearer’s is no guarantee of outsmarting the sea. She has sempiternal deceptions roiling beneath her waves, searching endlessly to sate her emptiness.
He became a second generation light keeper, following the path of an estranged father of the lights, when commonplace had sufficiently dissatisfied him. He was happy that she’d accompany him. His high school sweetheart, his wife of so many years, mother of their three children. How sad they all and each would be upon hearing the heavyhearted news. He loved them all, although untold directly, he exuded their love and closeness, as his children, his family, and his beloved. More than twenty-five years they had been inseparable. Literally. How far away can one get whilst isolated in service of the maritime boater and aviator? Not far, at all.
Death reign’s there.
I knew him for a short six days as a relief keeper, my first ever relief, in a beautiful place on this planet. I feel I knew him longer. Not in an ethereal way. On my first rock, and a couple more since, one gets to know its inhabitants swiftly. As few as they were similar, our conversations can tangibly be extrapolated that I grew to know him faster, or at least things important to him – my training, his family, his spouse, his youngest sons recent departure into self-reliance. To know this signifies the bonding of two people, two men. I think because of similarities to peculiar lifestyles, an opportunity to bond with another, an outsider, in a lifestyle almost empty of outsiders, is grasped, or lost, swiftly.
This was his final lesson. A reminder of this moment. A posthumous guiding light to shine for me until my time ends. I’ve been forewarned, and I’m grateful. Perhaps, if I’ve learned this lesson well, I can carry on in his stead, using what else he imparted, in those short days. This lost man of the lights.
Apprentice Light Keeper