Our time at the beach had a bit of everything. When there are 3 beach houses involved, one the family has used for over 20 years (because of the kindness of owners’ generosity), there will be laughter, frustration, ridiculousness and fun. Nostalgia and newness. It was all there crammed in with 4 generations.
I’m convinced that vacations are good only once a year and that is especially true when so many people get involved. Fortunately, we were only once all in one house at the same time. In any case, you end up needing a vacation from your vacation. The week AFTER the beach is surreal. The body re-adjusts, the expectations shift back to summer haze and the sun feels far less balmy. There’s no ocean to go stand in awe of, no surf pounding out the noisy pile up of day’s doings.
But the photos take you back, back to that walk with Isaac. One of the highlights of our time . . .
It was a landmark year: The first year my sister, Elizabeth, did not join us. She has Down’s Syndrome and is over 50 years old. Dementia rules her life now. She gives us glimpses of herself now. Only glimpses. But we celebrated her 50th last year, at the beach. As I flipped through packets of my aunt’s beautiful handmade necklaces, several of them provoked thoughts of my eldest sister. Out of the blue her bright smile shined through my quest for a wonderful necklace. Yes, I had appreciated not having to be awakened at 2am with her yells and crazed laughter. But I missed her most when I saw the bright baubles and stones she would have enjoyed years ago. She’s been “gone” a long time and there is precious little she enjoys now. This time at the beach did not feel mournful because of her absence but more fitting, honoring where she is at this point on her path. She has hated the coming and going of nieces and nephews and loud reminders of how many directions her life has not taken. The big table with elbows vying and so many people eating together at once, leaving her with something far less than the prime choice, perpetually reinforcing what she cannot control.
This trip left us all with plenty to sift through, including the few seashells and new freckles. And two new hermit crabs. The time with my kids was priceless. I couldn’t think of another year more filled with a sense of freedom, of release, of being at rest with where my life is right now. And in spite of being the lone parent, I felt more, not less, empowered to give of myself, to be fully present and enjoying the time. Besides, the water was amazing again. We could actually float in the relative calm and hold each other in the waves.
And there’s always more to remember.