Welcome Back to SOLO at SIXTY!
What a difference a year makes. Right? What about 2 years? Two years ago, I was newly SOLO, forging my way in a totally new direction. AND… Baby Jack (my great-nephew) was born! Just as his dad (my nephew) was the first baby in our family, so now is Jack. What fun and love he has brought into our family. Two years ago we were at the hospital waiting on his arrival and one year ago, we were all together at the beach celebrating his 1st birthday. He was trying to take his first steps and was crawling everywhere. Fast forward to this year when we just celebrated Jack’s 2nd birthday at the beach and let me tell you, this child is on the go! Thankfully, he loves the beach as much as the rest of us. That’s a must in our family.
“Our family is a circle of strength and love, with every birth and every union, the circle will grow, every joy shared adds more love, every crisis faced together, makes the circle stronger.”
This past weekend was so wonderful having my sisters and our family together at the beach. Missed my son and older daughter who had trips already planned. Thankful to have my younger daughter there. And of course we missed having mom with us, she was unable to make the trip, but we had fun remembering so many beach trips from our childhood. Back in the day our family would leave VERY early in the morning and drive to the beach with no idea where we would stay – no reservations. Remember – there was no internet to book a hotel and it was a long distance phone call! Mom basically drugged us with Dramamine crushed in OJ before leaving home to prevent car sickness. We did not have seatbelts in our big ole’ Chevrolet, so she made us little pallets on the back seat and the floorboards so we could sleep on the way down. One of the most fun parts of the trip down was the half-way stop at the Ellerbee Springs rest area, eating the breakfast Mom had packed. She always made country ham biscuits the night before. And of course we had Moravian sugar cake and milk. Once we finally arrived in Myrtle Beach, we would go from hotel to hotel looking for a vacancy, with Mom inspecting each room to make sure it was very clean before deciding on THE one. Many times we ended up at the Cadillac Court in Myrtle Beach. And we had to have an efficiency with a small kitchen, because we ate most of our meals in the room. Daddy did not eat anything that swam or flew, so we never had seafood (I did not eat shrimp until college!). Besides being on the beach and playing in the ocean, one of the biggest thrills was going to the Pavillion one night and riding the rides. Before we left, we always had to sit and listen to the 2-ton German Baden-Band Organ and watch the twirling figurines. That was Mom’s favorite part.
“Family is the anchor that holds us through life’s storms.”
As we got older, Mom would take us down to the beach with her sister and our cousins. My aunt would drive us in her station wagon and several of us would ride in the back (again no seatbelts). And later on, our family began vacationing at Surfside Beach, renting a large house with 2 other families, one being the family of my dear childhood friend Luanne. Oh the fun times Luanne and I had at Surfside! We would walk up to the pier and ride the Ferris wheel singing at the top of our lungs and then ride the tilt-a-whirl until our snow cones threatened to come back up! But most of the day was spent combing the beach for sharks’ teeth, a pastime I continue to this day. This past weekend, my nephew asked if I really had found the large sharks tooth that I have “on display” at my beach house. I told him that a month after Luanne passed away, I was walking on the beach thinking about her and how we always searched for sharks teeth, when I looked down and saw the biggest one I have ever found. I knew Luanne was right there. I still think of her every time I am in Surfside (which is often).
“Life brings tears, smiles, and memories. The tears dry, the smiles fade, but the memories last forever.”
When my kids were very little, before moving to Charlottesville, we had a small place at the beach and Mom and I would take my kids and my nephew (Jack’s Dad) to the beach mid-week many times in the summer. The rest of the family would come down on the weekend. Mom had a knack for walking the little ones in an umbrella stroller (do they even make those anymore?!?!) on the beach and lulling them right to sleep. They napped on the beach under the umbrella for hours! Mom had the magic touch. But it was like moving to get everything down to the beach. The back of my station wagon was loaded down with a playpen (for napping and corralling the youngest), an entertaining mobile for the playpen, an umbrella for shade, chairs for mom and me, beach towels, cooler of waters and snacks, sand toys, floats, WHEW! And if it rained and we had to pack up quickly, well that was a sight. And it did happen! But truly, it was always worth it. Those were such special times.
“Family, a little bit of crazy, a little bit of loud, and a whole lot of love.”
It truly is hard to believe that Jack is already 2, and very verbal so he and I get along well! We had so much fun watching and playing with him on the beach. And we celebrated his birthday every day with a present or 2 – my kids and I gave him a boogie board, a Surfside Beach ballcap, and puzzles. He also got a lot of Curious George books, stuffed animals, t-shirts and toys. The best was Saturday night where we had his birthday dinner at, you guessed it, my favorite restaurant FRANKS! What 2-year-old gets to celebrate his birthday at such a grown up restaurant? Well, Jack of course! He was so well-behaved (kudos to my nephew and his wife) and flirted with all the waitresses and diners around us so much so that they all sang Happy Birthday to him when his HUGE 14-layer caramel cake was set before him! After dinner we topped off Jack’s birthday by going to the Summer Lights Festival at Brookgreen Gardens. We lucked up and had great weather for it. We made more memories for our family on this beach trip, one we plan to continue each year.
“Today’s moments are tomorrow’s memories.”
I love making wonderful memories with my family, and especially doing so at the beach – my happy place. I feel as if I have come full circle with so many special beach memories. What a difference a year or 2 makes. Who knows where I will be in 2 more years!
“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you.” Desmond Tutu
Where do you see yourself in a year? What will you have accomplished? Will you have made lasting memories? Don’t put off making those memories with the people who mean the most to you, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.