By Deanna Silvey
Most of my childhood memories consist of playing with my sister on the Coast Guard Base in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, located just at the end of Peninsula Avenue. My father was Senior Chief, which didn’t mean much to me until I was old enough to understand how great of an achievement that was. My sister and I would play on the beach, explore the classrooms, and watch TV in their recreational area. We would tune out all of the important work being conducted around us and pretend to be anything we wanted. Our birthday parties, family cookouts, and celebrations all happened on that base. It was our playground and our home. My father sacrificed so much for us. He retired early so he would not have to be away for months at a time. It was such a great sacrifice, because the ocean was the love of his life. The first time I ever saw him cry was the day of his retirement. As we drove out of that base for the last time, I remember realizing that I would not be able to sit in his office and watch the dolphins from his window, or play in my favorite spots. My childhood was just beginning to turn into memories. I wrote this poem to thank my father for his service, and for the sacrifices he made for his children. He made sure to give us everything he could, including those fond childhood memories. Even though he retired many years ago, he will always be a sailor man.
At the End of Peninsula Avenue
I lick the salt water floating in the air.
The ocean’s breeze lightly tempers the humidity and tickles my tiny nose.
Sand quickly invades the open spaces in my shoes as I match my steps with Dad’s.
Good morning Senior Chief! They say to Dad as we walk past.
In his office, the familiar smell of pens and papers welcome me again.
A window framing the horizon.
Spears of sun rays piercing through the glass.
A set of binoculars resting in serenity.
Looking through those binoculars,
out that glistening window glass,
You can see
the ocean thrusting its weight against the big boats with
U.S. Coast Guard painted in bold and black.
A tired old turtle sitting in the shade.
A splintered bench swing stationed on the beach
I close my eyes as I sway back and forth,
back and forth on my bench swing
dipping my pink toes into the soft sand and
imagining where my next adventure will take me
on this playground.