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Larry's Last Ride

It was a gusty, rising surprise swell kind of sunset session. A few of us regulars joked around a little bit about the level of desperation we all must have had to be out there. For someone who is not a fan of small talks, I managed to blurt out some weather observations to other non-regulars and we all agreed about whatever it was.

Before sundown there were 5-6 ft sets rolling in. At the peak, a man on a red stand up who I would later learn was Larry Haynes, struggled to get on a few windblown set waves. My He tried many times, just barely missing the late drops. It was so windy my eyes hurt.

I overheard him tell my friend that he had to get one in because he had to pick up his daughter.

Moments later, on my way out of the beach and onto the highway where I parked. I felt then saw the commotion. Across the street, a man laid on the ground by a parked car on the side of the road while another man hovered over him giving him chest compressions. People, including a veterinarian I knew, helped control traffic, called ambulance, the cops, lifeguards. A truck drove by me then suddenly stopped—then a loud metal bang —a rubber necking bumper accident.

Through the commotion, the frenetic energy was focused on reviving the man. I watched from across the street, his legs slightly flopped up and down like a fish out of water as the other man pressed on his chest repeatedly. Then I saw the big red standup paddle board next to the man on the ground like a giant exclamation point.

I was petrified. I thought about his daughter waiting for him. I thought about my dad. I hoped that he caught an epic wave in. I wished he’d been closer to share a small talk with in the water. I thought about how I hope he’d experienced a great sense of humanity in his last moments, days, weeks, his lifetime. I never met or knew the man but from what I hear now, he did—that he was a real legend.

I had a sense of wishing I’d known him more. The same way, I felt about my own dad when he passed. I wish I’d known him more: asked questions, been truly interested in him as a human not just my dad.

Maybe yesterday was a reminder to me to care more and be curious—to pay attention and be okay with small talks, they always have a potential to be bigger talks, meaningful even. And maybe in the end, I’ll have less regrets, or none at all.

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