“Summer Breeze… makes me feel fine” Seals & Croft 1972

Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!

June 21st, my favorite day of the year, the first day of summer. This year I got to spend my favorite day at my favorite place with some of my favorite people – my sisters and one of my kids. Girls’ weekend at the beach! And to say it was a beautiful, perfect day is putting it mildly. The humidity at the beach was low, the sun was high, and the “summer breeze” was just right. We stayed on the beach until late, and celebrated the summer solstice with a dinner of grilled shrimp and grouper cheeks, okra, corn on the cob, and green beans, served on my porch. Oh and wine. And fresh peaches over vanilla ice cream. It was fun, lots of fun with lots of laughter, lots of sharing old memories (which my younger daughter loved hearing), and lots of talking – sister style. And the daylight lasted a LONG time… longest day and shortest night of the year y’all. My favorite.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” Charles Bowden

My 2-week vacation came to an end Sunday afternoon as my younger daughter and I headed back to Charlottesville. It was the most relaxing vacation ever. Enjoyed being alone for the first 10 days, but was thrilled when my daughter flew down for week #2, followed by my sisters a couple of days later. We spent long days on the beach, full circle back to our childhood summer vacations. Got to relive a lot of memories and had some deep conversations. Told my sisters I wish I could talk to mom about our parents’ divorce and apologize to her because I don’t feel that I supported her enough at the time. I mean, I was a 22-year-old new bride still in the honeymoon phase where the big “D” (divorce) was not even in my vocabulary. But my sisters both said that mom shielded all of us – she leaned on her sister. At which point my younger daughter reminded me I had done the same with my kids. Who did I call when I was told I would be moving to the new house SOLO? My kids? No… my sister, who came to me immediately. And my daughter said “you’ve undoubtedly told your sisters many things that you have not shared with us – that’s a Mom thing. Just like G-ma did.” So true. Made me feel much better as I have worried about this for the last 3 years. The unbearable pain I experienced when my marriage ended, which was basically the same way my parents’ marriage ended, opened my eyes as to how much my mother had suffered. And my younger sister, who was in high school at the time and still living at home, had to witness it all. Not a happy time for either of them. And I felt I had not helped mom (or my sister) enough.

“When traveling life’s journey, it’s good to have a sister’s hand to hold on to.”

Sisters (siblings in general) share a bond like no other. Who else have you known your whole life and share childhood memories with? So funny though, my sisters and I shared some memories that we could not all agree on! My daughter thought it was hilarious! We debated our dad’s wedding for one. My dad came to my house to tell me he was getting married. Mind you, it was on a Wednesday and he was getting married the following Saturday, but he did tell me. My older sister was in Mississippi visiting her husband’s family and I remember calling her long distance (when it cost big $$ to dial long distance) to say, “Houston, we’ve got a problem.” Should I go to the wedding? How would mom feel? Oh geez, who is going to tell mom? My older sister called our dear aunt, who told mom and broke her heart again. Mind you, it was 5 years after their divorce, not days, but still, we were not happy. Being the middle child, the peace keeper of the family, I decided to go to the wedding with my 1-month-old baby. Most awkward ceremony ever. Now… I would have sworn my younger sister went with me, but she has no memory of it. (Maybe her memory was fading due to the little cans of Crose’ Rose’ wine we were drinking on the beach!) She thinks they got married on a cruise ship and my older sister and I both said Nope. I mean, I remember rolling my eyes at her during the ceremony when daddy hesitated when it came time to say “I do.”  Plus, there were only about 8 of us there. As I had a newborn, I left as soon as the preacher said “I now pronounce you….” Thankfully. Not fun witnessing your parent marry the person who broke up your family. Loved my dad, made our peace, but never respected them. Just saying.

“May all your blues be the ocean and the sky.”

Since I was allowed to walk a mile, my younger daughter and I decided one morning we would set up on the beach and then walk to the pier for breakfast. So much fun! Then Saturday afternoon, my younger sister and I walked to the pier and got a drink at the bar – a frozen strawberry margarita for me while my younger sister decided on double-fisting and got a dirty monkey and a mudslide. Took them back to our spot on the beach. Older sister and my daughter opted for the rose’ in the cans.

“A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”

Last day on the beach was so beautiful after the storm that came up Saturday night while we were enjoying a grownup, classy dinner at Franks. The ocean was almost perfectly still, the sun was shining, and the summer breeze was blowing. After claiming our area on the beach, we decided that to keep up with walking my mile, we would walk back to the pier for breakfast oceanside. Learned that our favorite breakfast (and daytime bar) spot would be closing in October, when the rebuilding of the pier begins. (Pier was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew 3 years ago.) We’ll miss it… but it will be back bigger and better. Just like life…

“The waves of the sea help me get back to me.”

So it is back to the real world for me. Got home late Sunday night from my first ever 2-week vacay and decided I needed to get my life back to my pre-surgery routine Monday morning. Started by taking a 6 am cycle class (got permission from my physical therapist as long as I took it easy). Have NOT taken a class since the morning of my surgery, April 23rd! Back to being able to carry my backpack and athletic bag in to work. Man was it hard to get up, considering I have not woken up before 8 am for over 2 weeks! But I did and I sweated and I loved it. Also walked the 74 stairs up to my office (up and down that flight 6 times during the day!). Hit the 6 am cycle class again Tuesday morning followed by physical therapy where I am cleared to now walk 1.5 miles. Asked if that meant just once a day or multiple times as long as there was time in between. (Remember, I take things literally and need to know specifically!) Answer? Can walk 1.5 miles multiple times. Also added some weight machines to strengthen my knee and leg. WOOHOO! Progress…On the road to total recovery, and the last 2 weeks aided that in many ways. Regrouped, recouped, renewed. Gave my knee some good healing time.

“The best six doctors: Sunshine, water, rest, air, exercise & diet.”

For the past 3 years, I have tried to stay so busy working, traveling, spending time with my kids, my family, and my friends, that I did not have to think about the reality of what happened to me. But being alone and living in the slow lane those 10 days brought everything to the forefront and basically forced me to think and reflect on the demise of my marriage and what I want going forward. I am content with myself, where I am, and where I am going. Gave some serious thought to my future (future blogs!). All is well!  The only BS I need or want is Beach and Sunshine. I love my special place. I love the calm I feel at the beach. I love the people I meet down there – everyone is happy at the beach. Even the birds (which I love too!). I leave the beach planning my next visit. Needless to say, I cannot wait to get back to the beach. My kids and I are trying to coordinate a time for us all to be together. And my entire family (sisters and their families) will meet at the beach to celebrate sweet Jack’s 3rd birthday in August. Plus I have a few other fun trips planned down South. Much to look forward to the rest of this summer.

So make the most of these long, summer days. Let the summer breeze make you feel fine.  Don’t waste the beautiful evenings that still reflect the sunshine of the day. Each night when you go to bed, you say goodbye to a day you will never get back. Do something that makes YOU happy each and every day. Don’t leave anything on the table, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.

“Life is like the ocean. Waves will try to knock you down and push you back to where you started but once you fight through them, the entire ocean is yours.”

Best,

Leslie

PS  Did you know that Yoda and Miss Piggy were voiced by the same person? And who other than Frank Oz?

 

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