The California Lighthouse seems to have always been there. In fact, few people can remember a time when it wasn’t there, illuminated and sending a signal of impending danger to sailors who needed it, especially at night when the moon was dark and shore waters became most treacherous. Nevertheless, lighthouses are nothing more than tall buildings and do not work unless they have a keeper who is there to assure they do. There once was a keeper on Aruba at the California Lighthouse. He was a thin and gangly boy with disheveled hair and clothes that never fit - even when they were tailored. This odd young man needed to find suitable work – not to cover expenses, but rather to bring him a sense of dignity. Since all of his friends had found jobs and started lives of their own, it was time for him to do the same because living at home with his reclusive parents in a small room was not helping his social life. He could not find work anywhere, but was finally given (by friends in government as a last resort) the job of being the sentinel of a lonely outpost – the California Lighthouse. He was not expected to do a very good job, nor was he expected to stay long; however, as fate would have it – he did both. Under his care, the lighthouse was always painted and well kept. All metal work was properly cared for, and the very expensive glass reflectors were spotless. It would have been practically impossible for anyone to find fault in his work or in the way he did it.
Eventually, the bricks and sticks that made up that lighthouse brought respect to someone that never had any. Several small articles were written about him in the newspaper that remarked ‘how any good boy can do well with enough perseverance.’ His constant attention to this magnificent building was hailed by all and it was generally thought that he finally become happy and had found himself.
With all of the attention, it seemed odd that he didn’t attend social functions or go out much; but then again, he had always been a loner, or so they thought. The truth of the matter was quite different. As it turned out, in order to maintain this lonely outpost, he had become a slave to the bricks and sticks of the building. He needed to be there at night and slept as much as possible during the day. During his waking hours, he worked at maintaining “his” California Lighthouse in tip-top condition. A few friends did drop by, but the visits seemed short and the conversations often centered on the magnificence of his prison – as he started to think of it. He started to dislike going into town, and eventually asked his supplier to have the supplies delivered – which they did.
It was a Wednesday, and for reasons unknown to man, few ships passed by the island on Wednesdays – perhaps it had to do with cargo schedules – he never knew why. On this particular Wednesday, he decided to take a few hours off and walk the nearby dunes. While out there, he saw the rickety delivery pick-up truck from the hardware store and waved. The truck turned in his direction and stopped short of the soft sand. As he walked towards it, he noticed long flowing red hair which meant a young lady was driving. She got out and told him that her father had asked her to make the supply delivery. They shook hands and he hopped in the bed of the truck as she drove up the slippery sand incline where the lighthouse supplies were stored. When they were done unloading the supplies, they talked – about nothing in particular, but they talked. She was considered to be the homeliest girl on the island, and had no suitors at an age when she should have children already. As they continued to talk, he marveled at her lovely red hair and the way it blew in the wind. He was taken by her countless freckles and offered to count them. She laughed and said, “689 – that is how many there are – ear to ear, not counting arms or neck.”
She made many deliveries after that, and her delays to return back to the hardware store grew longer and longer. Finally, the young man showed up at the hardware store to ask her father’s permission for her hand in marriage. He smiled and said, “That girl has always been on the homely side, but ever since that Wednesday when she met you, she has become something special. Yes, of course, and God bless your union.” Not long after that, he proposed, they were married, and her father then had to make deliveries himself in order to see his daughter.
They young couple walked the dunes on Wednesdays because there were fewer ships, and with time they gently grew old there. Their bodies and love for each other aged in a most wonderful way. To the young children who saw them, they were known as “the two ugly people who live in the lighthouse.” Regardless of this, his many poems to her always started with, “My magnificent and lovely wife.” It would never have made sense to anyone to know, or be able to imagine, the beauty they found and saw in each other. He passed first, but she stayed on to make sure his work continued. Then at her time – she joined him.
While at the California Lighthouse, the couple set a standard for what love means, and what growing old together is all about. Today, the light house is still there; and perhaps if you go to the nearby sand dunes and stop, especially on a Wednesday, you will hear a floating laughter in the air, perhaps – who knows – perhaps.
This fictional piece was inspired by a story my grandmother told me when I was heard as a boy many years ago and is not based on actuality.
Thanks Ma Carry.
Last edited by charles; 06-12-2013 at 04:34 PM.
Reason: Story in book, ARUBA I AM YOUR ISLAND. Thanks for your comments, Charles
Allow me to respond to some mail I have received on this particular story. Inasmuch as it is in the book Aruba - you are my island, I was asked by the publishing company to take it down. I understand their position and will continue to write other stories around the first book.
One of the conditions I have asked for in my second book is that the publisher allow me to place one segment every month on this bulletin board. That has been granted.
If Aruba is your home away from home or if you are a newcomer to Aruba I suggest that you read a new book that has come out which I picked up when I was there on our last trip in 2012. The book is written by my friend Charles Croes and it is magnificent. The photography is done by Werner Bertsch. It is a splendid collection of stories written by a wonderful artist. The individual stories will take your breath away. Charles takes you across the island and gives a wonderful perspective through his eyes. "My table is full, yet there remains one empty chair and plate, which are yours. Feast and taste what I have to offer." "White sands close to the ocean wait for your feet to imprint your existence and declare your arrival." This is how Charles writes and you will love your journey. Join us in a wonderful experience as we explore "I Am Your Island". You will not be disappointed.