Driving from Caen to Omaha Beach I told my son that he was a man.

I cannot be sure why it happened then and there, but it did. As we drove north to the Normandy Coast, I turned to him and said “son, I want you to know you are a man.”

In my family, in our tradition, since the beginning, no boy has become a man without his father’s consent.

It is one of those weird, ancient things that no one really understands, but has lasting power anyway.

So as I drove down that gloomy French road, I turned to him and said “son, you are a man; as of this moment.”

“Cool,” he said, not understanding at all.

We drove north and turned left, turned west, driving past Gold Beach – thick with British tourists – down, down to Omaha beach, virtually deserted.

I walked out into the lazy, gentle surf, up to my chest, and turned looking inland, imagining myself an 18 year old American, running through the surf with two choices: either die there or die 20 meters forward, up the beach. No other choice, but a clear one.

And there, ahead on the dry sand, looking at me as if I were insane, my son stood watching.

All that matters is that I was there, with him, then and there. Nothing else matters.

5 Responses to “THE PARENT FILES: Omaha Beach”

  1. Then when he tells his son he is now a man he’ll remember what you did and tell the story of that day.


  2. Time will tell.


  3. Then one day when he turns to his son, you will be there, silent. I believe these things happen. These “ancient family traditions” gather weight and anchor us in who we are an where we come from. I know the truth of this. Once I was that girl looking at my mother as if she had two heads…. Al I can say is look at me now!! I have lived long enough to have one of my beloved offspring comment that she hears me issuing from her mouth at times and she suddenly understands..:)


  4. todealornot–where I come from ‘How quaint’ was a dismissive put down, but perhaps it means something else where you come from.

    Some people refuse to let their children become adults, it is wonderful you have a tradition that guided you and provided that moment.

    At Christmas time a saying in our house was “big things come in small packages.” I never found any jewels or other small treasures in my packages. But it did not matter, that there were packages at all was a wonder.

    A moment is a very small package, but this one you will always have. You may never know if or when your son finds it again, the important thing is you gave it to him.


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