A Perfect Beach Day

The sun is hot on my skin, but a cool wind sends my hair drifting on its currents.

Perfect day at the beach.  Blissfully warm.  Blissfully refreshing breeze.  Silly frou frou drink in my hand.

Frozen strawberry lemonade with vodka, whipped cream, and 3 cherries.  But no umbrella. Alas.

It’s my second one of the day.  The first one lasted nearly three hours. 

I began this perfect beach day at 10:15. Procured the vacation-only drink at about 11.  At two, we trundled up to the beach bar for blackened flounder and French fries with cocktail sauce.  And another drink.  I told the bartender twice as much strawberry lemonade, half as much booze.  He puts it in a 24 oz white Styrofoam cup.  I take most of it back to the beach with me. 

We, my friend and I, sit there until the shadows began to lengthen and the sun moves behind us.  I can feel old Sol’s heat on my shoulders and back.  I feel the stress dripping off me into the sand where the ocean took it far away.

The sound of the surf, the sound of shorebirds, a small child giggling in the distance somewhere.

Sigh.

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My father is a memory.

Breathe.

Just keep breathing. 

You can do this, you know you can, yes, breathe, in and out…

He was so handsome in his dress blues.  His hat, called a lid, on his chest along with the white gloves.  His sword at his side.  My mother said, “Still my handsome Marine.”

An officer and a gentleman to the end. 

I couldn’t touch him there in the casket.  I just couldn’t.  That other night, he was cold when I began mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  Cold.  So wrong for him to feel that way.  I realized and quit.  Knowing it hopeless.

My father was always warm, his hugs enveloping me and spreading that warmth until it engulfed us both.  He loved me.  I him. 

And he died.

Suddenly.  It wasn’t expected.  We didn’t see it coming.  He was warm and breathing and then he was cold and still lying on the bathroom floor, lying in the casket in his dress blues.  Hat, gloves, and sword.  And medals.  His medals a mess – we didn’t know how to arrange them.  His Marine friend was too overcome with grief to do it for us.  So they weren’t even pinned on.  They were just sitting there.  Not quite a jumble, but it was as wrong as his death.

Which was also right.  He went out the way he wanted to.  No lingering illness.  No hospital.  Fine and then dead. 

Dead.

My daddy is dead.

I remember the next morning lying on my bed trying to escape the pain.  Trying not to think and finally just sinking into it.  Letting the hot burning grief fill me.  All his warmth was now a blaze of sadness.  Yes, a blaze.  Great leaps of flame touching every part of me.  The little girl who sat on his lap.  The teenager who rolled her eyes.  The bride who took his arm and walked down the aisle.  The new mother who handed him his grandson. The daughter standing by his coffin unwilling to feel that cold again.

All that pain.

Wrapped up tidy for the funeral in dress blues.

An adagio of emotion.  Still, quiet, cold building to the flames and then trailing off.  Dying.  Cold…. A memory. 

My father is a memory. 

Today is my 63rd Birthday

Today is my 63rd birthday. I give to you today a repost of the entry wrote I about my 25th and my 50th birthdays. Today will be far quieter, but I wanted to drop in to say that my 50s were wonderful and my sixties, Covid aside, have been good. I think I’ve got this aging thing down.

The following was written 4 days after the epic party when I could finally write about it without crying.


Birthday Morning Glory

Approaching my 25th birthday, I had a midlife crisis. Having always been precocious, the early advent of said crisis shouldn’t have been a surprise. But it was.

At 25, so I thought, I had to grow up and be an adult. I needed to pay my bills on time, get my oil changed, quit wasting money, and become a responsible (unmarried) matron.

Appalled at such a future, I threw myself a birthday party – the last blowout of my misspent youth before donning sensible shoes and alphabetizing my spice jars.

At the time, I lived in Milwaukee with the ex who was not yet a husband. We had a house in the city on a tiny lot in a solid, staid working-class neighborhood. Knowing the party had the potential to get out of hand, we invited the entire neighborhood thinking if folks were invited they were less likely to complain.

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The Spanish Notebook

Three years ago today, I checked into the resort on Ibiza — Destino Pacha. I went to attend my son’s and now-daughter-in-law’s wedding.

Spain was a very good vacation. One of my best, but I’m not sure it was the best. That might have been Hawaii in 2017.

The Spanish Notebook

Spain, however, was my most unusual vacation. I went alone. To a foreign country with very little grasp of Spanish. I went to attend my son’s destination wedding. I also used the occasion to celebrate my 60th birthday.

I had never traveled alone for a vacation. There have been business trips and solo sojourns in hotel rooms, but never a whole vacation. I was giddy. I was excited. I was scared. I wasn’t sure how I was going to pay for it all. Usually, I had someone to share costs with.

I was alone.

My mother could not attend my son’s wedding due to failing health. It’s a long trip and she was just not up to it. My ex-husband was in the process of being diagnosed with a debilitating disease and was physically incapable of making the trip.

For the Hawaii vacation in 2017, I thought I had pulled out all the stops. I took my mom to places we hadn’t seen since 1970 when we lived there. We had a full list of things to revisit and see again. I made a notebook itinerary with detailed plans, flight schedules, hotel reservations, daily agendas, etc. It was pretty OCD. It saved our butts a few times.

That notebook was so successful that there was no question I would have one for Spain.

The Spanish Notebook ended up being more than 100 pages and was spiral bound for me by a friend. I mapped out everything. I had only two weeks in Spain, and I was determined to do and see as much as possible. The wedding was only going to occupy me for about 2 days before the happy couple went about their honeymoon. (And who wants their mom/mother-in-law on their honeymoon with them?)

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