Friday, November 21, 2014

Beach Memories - A Last Trip with Dad and a Word From our Sponsor

Just a quick note as it's Friday and I had a long, often cold week and then some photos.

I sent a half dozen of you some Barkley on Kindle last night  or the night before while the price was reduced as an early Merry Christmas.   I then realized, your email might send them to SPAM. So - if any of you and  I communicate through my brigid email address - please go check your SPAM filter for something from Amazon so you don't miss out as a few of you got an early Christmas gift (the rest of you I'm still working on punching the air holes in the box before I package up your "gift").

Until later my friends, I leave you with some photos of Dad's last trip (literally, not just figuratively) to the Oregon Coast where we spent much of our childhood at a very humble vacation cottage we kept there.

The first night there, there was a huge Pacific storm and the next day dawned blustery, to say the least.
My husband and I had rented three suites, one with a huge kitchen and living room, that adjoined or were across the hall from the others so a few of us could gather. The biggest one was a corner unit with great views. Everyone involved had done so much for Dad this summer while we worked, this was our treat, lodging, food, everything.

With it being mid week and during school, it was a small group but it was a tight group.  My cousin L (with whom Dad spent the summer) and her Partner K., and Big Bro's beloved only daughter and her daughter (her husband, a former submariner was working and wasn't able to make it) and Partner and I.
 The storm had passed.
People and their animals ventured out.

I remember once as a kid the tide went out so far we could drive a car around the backside of Haystack.  Cars aren't allowed now, but 45 years ago, this beach was almost deserted but for the locals and the occasion moron that drove his car into the incoming tide and got stuck and watched it get covered with salt water. Still everyone morning, before it was even light, Bro and I would head out to the rock to check out the tide pools, not disturbing anything, just taking in the wonders of the natural world.
We'd get up before light, being careful not to wake Mom ,and head on down to the tide pools that were exposed, gingerly looking, while not harming anything that was there, hoping to find a prehistoric shell to take home.  On the old 60's TV cabinet at Dad's, now a storage cabinet, is a dish full of sand dollars. Many of you have seen a sand dollar. They're commonly sold in souvenir stores. But what you see is only the remaining skeleton of a living sea creature. When living, the sand dollar is covered with fine hair like cilia that cover tiny spines, soft, and almost purple in color. But the remaining shell is beautiful, fragile, white. The essential essence of what this creature was.
We'd throw some of them back in the water, the tide moving as fast and as slow as life itself, even as we ourselves could not sense that momentum, believing that it would always be like this. All that distance between ourselves and the future, it was not even a thought in that long peaceful creep of a childhood afternoon.

TV was not allowed at the cabin and we'd play outside unless it was raining hard enough to drown a duck, coming in only for lunch (and once to catch Dad watching football - busted!). We played, racing around rocks, trees and water until supper, when we'd come in to Mom, to fresh baked cheddar garlic bread and fresh caught fish. We'd bound in and she'd take us in, in arms that smelled of flour, her auburn hair scented with Wind Song perfume, her laughter a balm to any skinned knee that might have occurred during the days warfare. We ran until we couldn't take in a breath.  We drove our feet deep into the sand, as if imprinting it forever.  We conquered the waves on skim boards, shooting across the wet sand with nothing more than the physics of motion and an inch of water, getting a sensation of movement of air and water, that never left either of us.
As Partner I ventured on that second day in this last family trip, I looked out upon the water, and remembered those days, happy I was out in the rain, getting wet, in doing so. As we walked, we talked, of mice and men and many things, sharing stories that occurred before he was born, that made me what I am, as our past shapes us all, like wind and tide.

I didn't mean we were ALL serious. There was these seagulls, and off to the left, one solitary seagull  Partner asked why he wasn't joining and I said "he is just waiting for his tern".  Laughing is good, even at really bad puns.

Time for some games as another shower comes through.
Cribbage and then Dominoes!
We're not type A or anything.
 Then a Trip to Bruce's Candy Kitchen established 1962 or 3.  I always remember it being there
Childhood favorites!  I don't care if your five or fifty - it's always fun to get hyped up on sugar and then go annoy your parents.
I just had the cheap point and shoot camera but you get the idea.
I got some "sea foam" candy and a HUGE bag of their incredible salt water taffy for my great niece and Monkeywrangler's kids.
 Shasta is tired and it was time for supper.

So many meals at this place, in good times and in bad,  as children, even during a time my Mom was battling cancer. She may have been too weak some days to get out of bed, but we were there, with Dad cooking pancakes that were so bad that the dog took them out and buried them and the one I threw in the fireplace wouldn't burn. Years later we still laugh about those pancakes.
We were there when storms tossed tree limbs like toys, taking out a window and reminding us just how vast and powerful the sky and ocean were, understanding both their saving power and severity. We were there through joy and hope and loss, and many, many a dismantled  crab.
But for our first night- Chicken Tetrazzini.

But first, some homemade bread, cheese and olive spread.
We paused to say grace, for family and all our blessings.  Then we dug in.
 Some homemade Cardamon bread for Breakfast with fruit and yogurt.
Then it was time to explore some more.  Dad can't walk on the beach, but he had fun on the balcony with the binoculars, waving at us.
The storm washed up all kinds of stuff.
But some things it didn't budge.
Halibut fish and chips for lunch!  Partner and I both can't do shellfish but I've got him hooked on Halibut.
After lots of walking after lunch out on the beach, Dad beat everyone at Cribbage. 
Then Dad took a little walk around the property with a view of the beach, then came in with Shasta to wait for the baseball game to start. We let him break the rule about TV, it was THE baseball game to watch apparently.

Before we knew it, it was time for "fresh off the boat" crab which K went and so generously bought. With it, there was mac and cheese and salad and garlic toast.

Dad - he just ignored the kids being silly AND the sides and worked on his crab til he had this heaping pile of crabmeat  on his plate and then ate it all at once with a bit of cocktail sauce.

The rest of the family had headed back to Central Oregon to work the next day, so it was just my husband, favorite cousin and her Partner and Dad.  We poured some wine and enjoyed every minute.
After a good night's sleep, it was soon time to go.  K. taking Shasta out for one last romp on the beach before an 11 hour drive for them, back to the mountains.
 Then back, as  we gathered up our things.
Shasta senses something is changing as bags are gathered up, sticking close to her favorite human.

Partner and I made one last trip, by ourselves, to the spot where my parents rented a cabin when Bro and I were children, right on the water, the place now a huge hotel.  The dynamics of the ocean have changed, a river inlet to the ocean now shifted so much closer to the shoreline, where it had once been a huge expanse of beach.
This view is one I knew for my entire childhood - but for the water being a little further away when we were little.

What is it about certain things in life, the simplest of things, a tool, a smell, the feel of a piece of wood or small stone in your hand that evokes a place, a voice, a wistful goodbye, that makes you feel like a small child walking on a path of life that got suddenly big. And like a child, you deeply sense how it makes you feel, but the words you know to explain it are so very limited, so you just sit and  look, and breathe it in.

The only sound I hear is the internal tick of a clock, the only other thing I can sense is a taste of salt, that of the ocean, or tears, I can not tell, but distilled there on my tongue taking me back some 40 or so years to that wooded area where we played soldier and spy, almost unchanged.  As I stood there, I could hear my brother calling to me from deep within the green - We've beaten the bad guys, come join me.   Not too soon Big Bro, I hope, but I will see you again

Then it was time to load up Dad and say goodbye.
Dad with my beloved cousin L, - who he took under his wing after her Dad died in a fishing boat accident when she was a young woman.  He will see her again, with her loving partner and family member K., but Dad knew it would be his last time here, with the family.

As he got into the car, I saw the tears as all he could get out was "last trip. . "  Then I said "but you DID beat everyone over the age of 5 in Cribbage"-- and he slyly chuckled "I did" and laughed, enjoying the car ride back to his house with a stop for marionberry pie before we got on the ferry.  Good memories to the end.
A couple of days later, Partner and I load up the rental car to take one last ferry ride to catch our flight home.  Dad watches me through the window from that old recliner that has faded, there where the light fell strongest. I wonder, does he see a grown woman, a few laugh lines there beneath the long red pony tail and ball cap? Or does he still see a little auburn haired girl growing into adulthood at the speed of sound?  Does he recall all of those moments that haunt the winter of our memory, or just those golden days of summer at the beach, unmarred by rain or thunder? Or has he simply surrendered it all over to simply this moment, now, these remaining days that are left?

He yawns and his eyes close, there in the late Autumn sun, one last exhalation that empties his body of waking or worrying. The neighborhood lay in that soft hazy light that makes the houses look like old photos, faded scraps of color that scatter lightly on the earth, lighter than dust, with which one hard rain would wash forever from our sight and memory, were we not to gather them up to protect them.

I know that parts of my life are over and the cadence of my days and my future will change once again. But dealing with change as I grew up was easier at the cabin, because over the years it was as constant as the gentle waves upon the shore. And in this dark this night, as I sit in a quiet room, only my laptop to keep me company, I open up my picture folder stored therein, where I carry those glimpses of places and people that I love. As the world outside stills, I take myself back to it, as if I was there. I take myself back so I can let go.
I remind myself that love is more about how I feel in my heart than how others feel about me, that home has more to do with those who love me, than their being with me this very moment. And when I think of Big Bro standing against the landscape in my dream, still strong and healthy, I realize something. The undercurrents of ocean and sky had shaped him, eroding away all but what is essential; until all that was left was pure love, a pristine light that is his soul.   That, I will always have with me.

I tell myself, not how much I miss him, and will soon miss my whole family, but that I am thankful for who they were to me, and always will be.

The cabin is gone, but it's the memories that matter. They are in me, the way waves, incessant, after a long time, cease to be sound, yet are still there

 - Brigid


  1. Geez, it's awfully dusty in here...

  2. Ah, the majesty of the (almost) Winter storms. :)

    No side trip to for ice cream at the dairy processing plant?

  3. What a wonderful post. Gotta go now, must be the allergies....

  4. A wonderful heartfelt post and I know it isn't my allergies.

  5. Memories are all I have left of my parents and brother. This was a sad happy story.

  6. Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories, my friend. I have been feeling sad but I realize now that it is not my own life, simply the stage in which we both find ourselves. To love is also to endure losses. Love to you and yours,

  7. Another Brigid post that I couldn't get through without tears streaming down my face. Missed some of the pictures, though. I'm having internet connection problems with Frontier internet that I'm trying to resolve.

  8. This post reminds me that there are places we can only visit in our memories and often (at least in my own case) things are slightly out of focus or the resolution isn't to the degree I'd like.
    Evocative stuff, once more.
    That should be the title of a collection of these posts, "Evocative".

  9. I seldom comment. Sometimes because I doubt that mine will make a difference and sometimes because the monitor is hard to see. Had to wait for it to clear today.

  10. No allergies just tears. I seem to do that a lot when reading these post. Thank you for them.

  11. A couple of days later, Partner and I load up the rental car to take one last ferry ride to catch our flight home. Dad watches me through the window from that old recliner that has faded, there where the light fell strongest. I wonder, does he see a grown woman, a few laugh lines there beneath the long red pony tail and ball cap? Or does he still see a little auburn haired girl growing into adulthood at the speed of sound? Does he recall all of those moments that haunt the winter of our memory, or just those golden days of summer at the beach, unmarred by rain or thunder

    My bet is he remembers it all!!!


  12. Old NFO - I notice that when I'm writing sometimes.

    Roscoe - no, once he got settled in, he didn't want to leave. Getting in and out of the car is very hard for him But he loved the candy we brought back

    Keads - thanks. Like my brother and I, you appreciate good parents.

    HatTrick - Thank you Bruce

    Linda - it's tough outliving them isn't it.

    Brighid - I'm so glad you got to meet him and spend some time with him on previous trips.

    Jane of Virginia - if anyone gets this you do. Be thankful for the family remaining and hold close, those that have gone before.

    Sherry - hope the internet clears up and the weather. Hopefully your town didn't get slammed as much as Buffalo.

    Ed - some of these stories will be woven into my next book, that I hope to have done by summer. Writing time is sparse with the commute and travel back and forth out West.

    squeeky's Mom -You are very welcome. Thank you for taking the time to stop and say hello.

    Merle - I'm sure he remembers so much, almost 95 years worth of memories.

  13. Your Dad's amazing.

    So is his family.

    Rich in NC

  14. Sometimes I don't comment because what I've just read hit such a sympathetic chord, that I can't put words to the emotions the post caused.

    Thank you for letting us peak in the window of your world.

    Rich in NC


I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..