Californian community columnist Steve Flores

I am not sure what to make of it.

It happened this year on our annual camping trip to the beach with the Wavehogs.

In case you missed it in my previous columns, our “Wavehogs” celebrated 31 years of camping together this year. The Wavehogs started 31 years ago when my brother “Big Foot” Ralph and his wife, “Doheny” Dora, and their children joined my wife, “Shoppin’” Sue, my children and me, the Big Kahuna, for a few nights camping at San Clemente.

Over the next 31 years, our camping group would grow to include more than 80 family and friends who would eventually be affectionately known as the “Wavehogs.”

I really don’t remember which year, but my son “Awesome” Aaron was probably about 8 years old. He and his twin brother, “Chi Patrol” Sean, will turn 34 this October. It was our last summer day on the beach. The Wavehog Juniors, our younger children, start with playing in the sand at the water’s edge, graduate to boogie boards and eventually become fanatic body surfers. “Awesome” Aaron, “Chi Patrol” Sean and their cousins were in their boogie board Wavehog phase that summer.

It was the time of day I disliked the most at the beach. Compounded by the fact that this was our last day on the surf, I reluctantly caught one more wave and then called everyone in from the beach and to head up to our campsite to prepare for dinner.

Just so you know, a Wavehog never walks out of the ocean. You always catch a wave out of the beach.

As we are all gathering our towels, boogie boards, empty ice chest and beach chairs, I notice my son Aaron was still in the water. He was alone on his boogie board and I went out to get him. He caught one more small wave and rode to me covered in sand, dark from his suntan and sadly said with his big brown eyes, “Dad, I don’t ever want this to end.”

My young son expressed exactly how I felt every summer when I knew I was catching my last wave. I really never wanted it to end either.

Fast track to this year with my now-4year-old grandson Ariyon. We call him Ry Ry. It was his last day at the beach. He was all cleaned up now and was getting his last bike ride in with his cousins before heading back to Bakersfield.

His dad, Sean, mom, Yvonne, and siblings, Ms. Haley and Cameron, were packing up their car. His bike was finally loaded and it was time for them to go back home. Ry Ry came up to me with his sad big brown eyes and with both a smile and an elephant tear said, “Grandpa, can I stay here forever?”

Besides breaking my and my daughter “Narly” Nikki’s heart, who was standing nearby and overheard Ry Ry, I wished I could have waved a magic wand and made his wish come true.

I was immediately whisked back to that summer day many years ago on the beach when Aaron looked up at me and said, “Dad, I don’t ever want this to end.” And just like with Ry Ry, I would give up any fame or fortune and all my super powers as a father and grandfather to make their wish come true.

Separated by many years, my son and my grandson’s comments were different but connected. I’m not smart enough to psychologically analyze the connection but I would venture to guess it has to do with family…my huge, lovable family.

Thanks to all the Wavehogs, my children feel safe, loved and proud being with their large family of cousins and friends…at the beach, at an aunt or uncle’s backyard barbecue or just about anywhere. Just ask any of them.

First playing at the water’s edge, then riding their boogie board and finally joining their Wavehog elders and riding their last summer wave onto shore. I realized our days at the beach are a beautiful analogy of our family life.

I’m not sure what it all means but Aaron and Ry Ry, I know. I don’t ever want it to end either.

Email contributing columnist Steve Flores at floressteve32@yahoo.com. His work appears here every third Monday; the views expressed are his own.

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