Monthly Archives: November 2017

Oceans take me home…

I recently returned from our family’s now annual trip to South Carolina’s coast. We all made it, four grandsons included, for a week of clear blue, cloud-dotted skies and cool nights. Ocean temperatures just shy of tepid bath water. October beaches call to me now more than summer. Tourists are gone.  The beach nearly deserted with only a handful of umbrellas and chairs sprinkling the shore.  Most inhabitants cottage owners and a few canine friends.


Ocean vacations have a special lure for me as they were the only vacations, other than a visit to a cousin or two, I took as a child. And as a family.  My dad would save up all year for one week at the beach. My brother and sister and I all rallied for this event even into college days.  The chosen beach was always a day’s drive away.  God forbid my dad would get on an airplane.  And my mother’s box of children’s books, quilts, pound cake and pile of hats would never fit in a carry-on anyway.

No our treks to the shore were an event.  An event I looked forward to from the moment the sea and salt air and seagulls faded in the distance to the moment I could see and feel them on the horizon again. I got this same feeling when I drove to the beach last month.  Dad-like in my fear of flying and mom-like in my desire to have all the comforts of home whenever possible, my car was filled to the brim with beach towels, beach toys, beach chairs, pillows, porta cribs and a case of bootlegged wine.  All that I schlepped across six state lines over three days.

And as soon as I saw my first seagull and the southern mica began to sparkle in the asphalt and brackish water filled roadside waterways, my heart began to pound with childlike excitement at what lay ahead and the treasured moments our week would most certainly hold.

My mind drifted back to rides I had taken with my family.  Same roads. Same peach stands. Same cotton fields. I was transported to the backseat of the family Dodge sedan. My older brother and sister asleep, or lost in their own thoughts, on either side of me and I wrapped in my favorite blanket, cozy laying across the backseat shelf. Yes, that was legal way back then. Untethered children could slip under the rear window and watch the evening sky whizz by.

In the quiet of the car dreaming of our days in the sun ahead, I could hear the faint crackle of static on the car radio as my dad tried to pick up a station on the backcountry roads.  I was lulled by the sound of mom and dad’s whispers as they talked most likely about nothing more than our mileage or the next turn. But their whispers seemed intimate and reassuring.

All seemed right in my world.

As my eldest grandson once said, “We are all a family, all on the church bus together.”  Where he got that is baffling to me as he at that point had never been on a bus much less a church bus. But he is like that.  He articulates feelings with insights beyond his years. And that one is exactly what I felt at that moment.

At the beach, the family magic continued. We ate out every night, something we never did at home.  Children’s menus and placemats to color felt like Christmas to me. We spent lazy days on the sand. Watched my dad burn his knees as he always did and insisted he wasn’t, made sand castles, watched fisherman cast their lines into the surf.  Walked the shore peeking in fish buckets for a glimpse of their catch. Rode the waves, took outdoor showers and slathered apple cider vinegar on our rosy skin for those of us who admitted we had gotten a little too much sun. Try it. I promise you will be brown by morning.

Going to bed smelling like Easter eggs and waking up to sugar-coated cereal, peanuts in the shell and store bought cookies, all rarities at home, the hours turned into days and the week inched toward the dreaded Saturday that meant cleaning up, packing up and heading back to reality.

I hear and feel those memories when I am at the beach now. I could reach out and touch that young family, those sacred trips. I see my mom or my dad or brother, all gone now, behind sunglasses, lounging on beach chairs, sifting the sand for shells. I hear them in the pound of the surf.  I sense them in the soft breezes and star lit skies.  They are all there. In my thoughts, in the laughter of my grandkids, in the dinner table chatter over boxes of carry-in.

They live on in the next generation. That circle of life is a comfort to me.

And I feel that hope and reassurance most by the sea.