I’ve a shock for Sam, one I’ve introduced from residence, one thing it took me days of obsessive looking out to seek out. And I’ve imagined a touching scene as we’re about to set out.

“I’ve one thing I need to offer you,” I’d say to my son.

“What’s it, Dad?” he’d reply.

I’d then unwrap my fastidiously folded handkerchief containing an
outdated scallop shell.

“I don’t perceive,” he would possibly say, a crease in his forehead.

“I carried this throughout Spain on my first Camino, earlier than you have been born. I’ve saved all of it these years. Would you want to hold it?”

“Oh, Dad,” my son would exclaim and throw his arms round me. However earlier than any of this may occur, Sam turns to the desk. “This one’s tremendous,” he says, and grabs a shell.

My sentimental fantasy fizzles. I say nothing. It’s, in spite of everything, his Camino, I inform myself. I choose a brand new shell as properly and determine to go away my outdated one buried deep in my pack, unmentioned. In reality, I had combined emotions about burdening my son with lugging round a relic of my previous—the sins-of-the-father are sufficient with out such apparent metaphors. Our subsequent cease is likely one of the many retailers which have sprung up since my final journey, when pilgrim companies have been scant. Over the following a long time, a complete business has advanced to assist these strolling to Santiago—and in flip, the locals. We every select a protracted strolling stick and are lastly able to go.

The stroll culminates in a go to to Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, in entrance of which Andrew and Sam pose triumphantly right here.

Courtesy Andrew McCarthy

“I gotta go poop,” Sam says.

I really slap my brow.

Again within the room we make closing preparations. I rearrange the load in my backpack one final time. I urge Sam to get off his telephone and prepare.

“Chill, bro. It’s my final 5 minutes on TikTok.”

Then he’s making an attempt on his new hat in entrance of the mirror. My son appears so younger, his options so delicate, his blue eyes glowing. His extensive and crooked grin matches my very own. We’re each giddy and nervous with pleasure.

I seize a number of rushed photographs of Sam as he hoists his pack. The pictures are blurry as a result of neither of us can cease shifting. Regardless of my poor photographic efforts, the pictures reveal a younger man so harmless, so excited and open and weak–none of Sam’s traditional cool demeanor is current on this second. And we’re out the door.

Tailored from WALKING WITH SAM: A FATHER, A SON, AND FIVE HUNDRED MILES ACROSS SPAIN by Andrew McCarthy, revealed on Might 9, 2023.   Copyright © 2023 by Andrew McCarthy.   Utilized by association with Grand Central Publishing.   All rights reserved.

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