Pine trees have always been a symbol in my life. Growing up “behind the pine curtain” in East Texas, I didn’t think much of them other than to know that they were the backdrop of my existence.
Pine trees surrounded my childhood home — a home my dad built with his own pear-paw hands in his mid-twenties. They lined the streets we used to drive four-wheelers and golf carts down on our side of Longview. They towered above us as my dad, brothers, and I explored the wilderness and creeks of the land he purchased when we were kids. And one night, they were the prominent (yet confusing) feature of a dream I had many years ago.
In that dream, my parents and I were driving down a long, winding road that sat oddly close to the waterline. As wispy pine trees danced past us, I could see turquoise water peering through. The road was long and didn’t seem too different from the country-side streets I’d grown up on.
How funny, I thought. My mind mixed the familiarity of home with the turquoise backdrop of my favorite islands.
One day, I promised to take my parents to those islands to experience that unmistakable Bahamian blue water for themselves. And a couple of years later, that’s exactly what we did.
We spent the first part of our trip in Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, islands that border either side of North Eleuthera. Though those islands are quaint and charming, my dad and I never shied away from going off the beaten path.
My poor mom was just along for the ride.
At the time, I didn’t know much about Eleuthera aside from what I’d witnessed from an airplane window (and knew absolutely nothing of its foliage). But after seeing dozens of photos of Lighthouse Point at the southernmost tip of the island, my dad and I decided it would be worth the 110-mile journey to the other end.
We left Governors Harbour early that morning, drove past the tiny settlements of Bannerman Town and Deep Creek, and hit the end of Queen’s Highway.
From there, it was a two-mile journey down a poor-excuse-for-a-road full of suspiciously-deep puddles and craters. My mom was rattling around in the backseat of our rusty rental car — a beige Chevrolet Trailblazer that’s cloth seats had seen more sand than any vehicle ever should.
After debating the best approach for the tires to take across washed-out road and praying our way through more than a few rain-filled sinkholes, we made it to Lighthouse Point.
It was an adventure, and it was magnificent.
Later that afternoon, the three of us headed back to Governors. It hit me as I drove along the long, winding road that sat oddly close to the waterline. With my hands on the wheel of this old SUV with my parents around me, the wispy pine trees of Eleuthera danced past us.
In those moments, I soaked in a literal dream come true.
I remember recounting my dream to them in the car, wondering how that moment could be real. I still wonder.
But that unusual adventure is just one of the thousands of memories I have of my father. Memories that this morning, the day after his unexpected departure from my life, ache just as much as they make me smile.
I owe so much of who I am to my dad. He’s half of the artistic duo who gifted me with creativity, the pilot who gave me an insatiable desire to experience the world, the relentless entrepreneur that inspires me to dream bigger, and the prolific writer who brought me to this very moment — sitting behind the keyboard, surrounded by pine trees, in our home in East Texas.
I know I’ll miss him for the rest of my life.