One more walk on the beach

Labor Day has always been a time of rest and relaxation for me. It was also a big holiday for my mother who might spend up to a month prior to this weekend pulling together an amazing event—a massive family gathering. Our family would rent a beach house for the long weekend and gather as many relatives under one roof as possible. The kitchen was constantly in use—sometimes hectic but always enjoyable, we were never short of food or people to eat it. Out on the beach, my cousins and I would divide our time between swimming in the ocean, building sand castles or just taking long walks and catching up. At night, we’d go into the little town nearby and have ice cream and re-stock the groceries. Some evenings we'd play board games or just sit around retelling stories of our younger days. Once the ‘older folk’ went to bed, the young and young-at-heart would watch late-night movies or take a moonlit walk on the beach swapping the stories not fit to share with parents. As we got older and started our own families, it became more challenging to round everyone up for the beach but we always seemed to manage it somehow—it was a time of being together as a family.

Last year, the family vacation was cut short by a hurricane. While I can’t begin to compare my experience to what just happened in New Orleans, it was still quite an ordeal for all of us. For two days and nights, we weathered the howling winds and torrential rain. Even though our beach house was up on stilts, there was flooding from the rain being blown through the seals of the windows and sliding glass doors. I spent most of my evenings changing towels around the different windows and doors to sop up all the gathering water. When the storm had subsided, everyone decided to leave the beach and head back inland. I see that storm now as a prelude to the whirlwind of changes forthcoming in my family.

This year, I’m not at the beach. This year I’m home with my wife and kids. I’ve used all sorts of weak excuses: the new baby is too young to travel, we just want to stay at home this year, I have to do my hair (see my picture?) The truth of the matter is that my mother passed away this year and this is the first Labor Day of many to come without her. I wish for nothing more right now than to take a walk on the beach with her and talk about all the things that have happened since we last spoke. Since I won’t be at the beach this year, I’ll have to settle for seeing my mother’s joy in my daughter’s smile.

Comments

  1. despite the fact that family was all around me, that i couldn't get a moment of peace, and that i had to share rooms and showers...without her the house was too large.

    i missed you.

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