‘Hundreds of People a Day Would Walk By and Admire His Work’

Sand Sculptures

Dear Diary:

I used to see an older man and his wife every summer by the lighthouse on Fire Island: him, shirtless and wearing Bermuda shorts, her in a floppy pink straw hat.

The man would create two or three sand sculptures of classically styled, voluptuous women, with seaweed for hair and seashells for fingernails. Hundreds of people a day would walk by and admire his work.

The couple had been coming to the beach since the 1960s. We would say a few words, talking more and more as the years went on.

They were both around 80. They would arrive in the morning and leave by 2 p.m. The late afternoon waves would erase the man’s creations, and he would be back the next week with new ones.

Summer would fade, and it would be eight or nine months before we returned. When we did, there he would be, creating his art.

We had grown up in Brooklyn, decades apart. We talked of our lives, our health, the pain and regret of advancing age. I told them of our son, who had died in a car accident. They were silent and crestfallen.

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