The following is an imagined story about my mother and her Grandfather Gus Hooper. I was inspired by a photograph of them at the beach together, taken the year he died (1958). The photo has such character with Gus unashamedly posing in his swimsuit with Kim squealing with joy at the beach. I also incorporated a newspaper article I found; about an attempted rescue made by Gus and his friend at the beach.
“Hold my hand Kimmy” said Gus, taking hold of his youngest
grandchild’s small round hand.
It was 1958 and Gus loved spending time with Kim. She was a bubbly little three-year-old,
always chatting away. Today they took the motor car to Bargara and parked near
the old surf club at Neilson’s Park. As
they walked down to the sand, Gus huffing and puffing, Kim pulled on his hand
towards the surf. “Hold your eyebrows!”, his wobbly legs stumbled on the warm
sand, dropping the towels.
Kim ran towards the water squealing and laughing “Come on
Grampaaa!” God love her. He limped away after her. He would not lose sight of her.
Gus remembered his days in the Lifesavers when they would
have to pull people out of harm’s way. He remembered that day 43 years ago when
he and Arthur were swimming and saw a young man get caught in a rip. That
fellow had just saved a young lass from drowning and then went out into the
surf again. Gus and his friend swam out
to assist him, but the sea was too strong for them and they were nearly swept
out to sea themselves. They had to abandon the rescue and witnessed the man
disappear beneath the surf. His body was
found on the beach by the black rocks the next day.
Misty eyed and deep
in thought, he was startled by the cool sting of the salty water as Kim
splashed him in the face.