Christmas, On the Sea of Love

It was the same deep bark, a big-dog bark that I heard the last time I was here.

I knew I looked eccentric, my hair wild, my eyes, red. I was on my way home from a swim and decided to stop here.

The one-way mirror behind the door’s decorative ironwork revealed my odd countenance. I hadn’t been here in two years, Lisa might think a madman was at her door.

Would you open your door to this glassy eyed guy?

So, I called out, “Lisa, it’s me, Lee.” The barking continued.

Finally, she opened the door, “Lee, so glad to see you, I had to put Rocky away,” she said.

You might recall my blog essay about Lisa-Wong-Esposito, “A Sea of Love for a Vietnam Vet.”: I thought I’d visit again for Christmas.

Frank Esposito was an Army Combat Engineer serving in Vietnam for a conflicted America. His job was to engineer landings for our troops to serve and survive in a seascape of fire and steel.

Lisa had her seascape engineered by a friend to honor Frank. Her Christmas decorations were— outstanding.

She had joyful figures woven into her nautical garden.

Lisa pointed out the lights and colors with a smile.

She turned the lights on for me, even though it was daylight.

For Frank, Lisa goes all in.

You might recall the landscaping alone cost $60,000, the electrical decorations cost an additional $12,000. A conduit had to go under the concrete sidewalk to illuminate the trees on the public stip. I said, “The conduit was installed before the concrete was poured, right?” She said, “No, after.” She said they had to tunnel under to do it.

I think Lisa speaks of these amouts so that we might know her endless love for Frank. The garden is a sea of living love, bursting with flowers, spring and summer, resplendent with Christmas joy—to nourish others — now.

Frank worked with sandbags and palettes on his Vietnam seascape. He served in love for America.

I told Lisa my original post is still viewed often, even in China. She said she sent the post to a relative in Hong Kong. That would explain it.

Lisa grew up in Hong Kong and played cello as a child, sometimes for eight or nine hours a day. She loves the cello’s sound, she loves classical music. Lisa said she can listen to any piece for two or three minutes and identify the piece and who it was by.

Operation Starlite

Frank worked with heavy construction equipment so that landing craft could safely come ashore. In Operation Starlite, the first major encounter between U.S. forces and the communist troops. Frank worked all night placing pallets on a beach so that Marines could better come ashore.

As they worked,Viet Cong forces held their fire from the mountain behind Frank. When the Marines landed, heavy fire tore into them. Forty-five Marines died in that operation. Well over a thousand times that amount of U.S. troops would later die in Vietnam.

Marines aboard an Ontos (six recoilless rifles, fifty cal machine gun) coming ashore in Operation Starlite. The operation took place on the Van Toung Peninsula, South of Chu Lai.

Lisa still plays the cello, not as much as she did as a child, but she loves her cello.

When Frank returned from Vietnam, he landed in California. At the airport he was met with verbal fusillades of “Baby killer!” and other noxious strafing.

America asked Frank to serve. So he put on a green uniform and laced up black boots. America then debated the war over pizza and beer, so conflicted were they. Frank served in fiery conflict, and Americans cursed him for it.

Frank Esposito served.

After Vietnam, Frank worked in the dusty confines of ships in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He contracted mesothelioma working on a carrier. It killed him.

A few days after my visit, I returned with Cheryl to take night photos of Lisa’s Sea of Love.

Lisa thinks of Frank often and recently observed the day of his passing, Dec 11th, with candles in front of his photo.

Lisa is happy with her life. She enjoys her dog, Rocky, she reads a lot, especially history or books about the cosmos. Lisa relaxes by taking Epson salts baths amidst candles—and classical music.

Frank and Lisa
Our flag flies bright—on a starry night

Merry Christmas, America


3 replies »

  1. Spectacular! I just love the story that goes with her amazing displays! Thanks for sharing her story. 😊


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