Welcome back to SOLO at SIXTY!
Life can be so ironic, you know what I mean? It can be filled with sadness and happiness at the same time. Last Friday I left Charlottesville pre-dawn, heading to NC. Went straight to see my sweet momma who was as happy to see me as I was to see her. “Hey Les!” Always glad to hear her greet me by name. We were just catching up when she surprised me and asked if I was dating! After I picked myself up off the floor, I thought to myself, “WOW, she remembered this time.” Remembered that I am SOLO, which is kinda ironic, considering Friday was supposed to be my 39th wedding anniversary. Ironically, I found it very comforting that she remembered that one major fact of my life on that particular day. And that’s the story I am going with, not that she thinks I might still be in high school and dating!
Left mom to meet my sisters and brother-in-law for lunch at Sweet Potatoes in downtown Winston-Salem before we attended the funeral of our cousin, who lost her courageous battle with cancer. It was good to see our other cousins – her brothers, and their family. Childhood memories flooded my thoughts sitting there, remembering trips to the beach together, traveling in the back of my aunt’s station wagon (no seatbelts!) waving at people and trying to get big trucks to “toot their horn” at us, pulling a camper. My aunt would do just about anything, and my mom always went along, bringing her 3 girls. Lots of fun times at the beach – playing in the ocean and looking for shells, and fried bologna sandwiches for lunch everyday (my younger daughter and I continue this tradition at the beach!). A bit ironic that here I am today, back where it all started… Surfside Beach.
After the funeral, my older sister and I traveled to the Surfside Beach together (brother-in-law came Saturday). Well kinda traveled together. I have been accused of having a lead foot, unlike my sister who is a much more cautious driver. (She would NEVER drive into water!) So even though we did not stay right together, we did meet up when we stopped for gas halfway. And talked on the phone several times during the trip. Happily arrived at the beach while the sun was still up (barely!). We are losing 2 minutes of light every day! Since we had had a fairly big lunch and it was a bit late, my sister and I decided to go light on dinner and headed to Surf Diner to share an appetizer and enjoy a glass of wine on their ocean-front deck. There was a good breeze, filled with that heavenly salty, humid beach air, plus the usual fireworks on the beach to entertain us. Lord have I missed this place! Due to moving kids, I did not get down here at all in July.
Though so thankful to be at the beach, in less than 10 hours, I was on the road again early Saturday morning heading to Kiawah Island to meet my son, his fiancée and her parents to look at wedding and rehearsal dinner venues. Life gets even more ironic here y’all. How? Well, as I was driving onto beautiful Kiawah Island, I realized that 39 years ago that day, I was a 22-year-old newlywed driving onto Kiawah Island for my honeymoon! How ironic that 39 years later (don’t flinch at my age, y’all already know how old I am!) I find myself at the same place, looking at wedding venues for my adorable son and his beautiful fiancée. Was it painful? Hurtful? Devastating? Absolutely not! That’s when it hit me… I am truly happy in this ironic life I am living. I have moved on. I am okay. And even though I don’t believe that “time heals all wounds”, I do believe time eases the hurt and helps you move on. After all, it has been 3 years y’all. Plus, I have many good memories of our family vacations at Kiawah and we are making more this coming year!
“The best things in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen, and the memories you’ve made along the way.”
So Sunday, after attending Mass in Kiawah with my son, his fiancée (I just love calling her that!), and her family, I headed back to my beach house (aka “Don’t Worry, Beach Happy!”) for the week. Arrived in time to ride my bike to my sister’s for dinner. Caught her up on the weekend’s events and excitedly talked about plans for the rehearsal dinner and wedding. When Monday arrived, after struggling through my first time back running at the beach, I spent the whole day on the beach, sleeping and reading (have read 2 books this week!), not leaving the beach until after 6:30 pm. And since Surf Diner was so much fun Friday night, I decided to head back there for dinner, especially since they will be shut down in October when the pier begins the rebuilding phase. As I was seated, my waitress said, “just one?” When I answered yes, she surprised me by saying she was proud of me for going to dinner by myself. And no, I did not know this woman, but of course I do now! She has been SOLO for 13 years and has yet to go out to dinner by herself, SOLO. And you know what? I, too, am proud of myself for going to dinner by myself, sitting at a big picnic table surrounded by families and couples, and you know what? I had a great dinner and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
“Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” John Barrymore
Speaking of SOLO, I also took myself out to dinner last Thursday night before heading out of town. I was running last minute errands before my trip, and decided to treat myself to dinner at Bonefish. Boy was it good! And fun! Knew the bartender, so I did not even have to tell her my order (I always get the same thing!) and saw a group of special friends at the bar where I was eating. Plus, some of my old cul-de-sac neighbors came in for dinner. Shared a glass of wine with them before heading home to pack for my trip.
“Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”
So yes, I am proud. Proud that I have overcome the obstacles and challenges life has thrown at me, and yet, I still love my life. I wake up looking forward to what each day may bring. Very easy to say this while being down here at my happy place! But even when I am not down here, I do look forward to each and every day. And especially this week. My younger sister is set to arrive later today (sister time!), 2 of my kids Thursday, my nephew and his family Friday morning, and my other kids Friday evening. All the people I love most in life, except for our sweet momma, who just cannot make the trip anymore, will be together. Family weekend y’all! The BEST!
“Family, we may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.”
So appreciate the irony in your life and find something each day that makes you happy, no matter how ironic it may be. Remember you can be happy even with difficulties interrupting your life. Look on the bright (sunny!) side of life’s challenges and be thankful for each and every day, because as we all know, none of us is promised tomorrow.
“The sun is a daily reminder that we too can rise again from the darkness, that we too can shine in our own light.”
PS I also got my baby fix (at least until Sweet Izzie gets here!) while in Kiawah! Oh what a sweet baby…