This is a post I wrote back at the end of February, when my father was sick. I never got around to publishing it, because he got worse, and then he died on March 7th. I’ve only just gotten the urge to come back here to this blog. Who knows what it’ll turn into, but for now, here’s this:
I took my daughter to the beach last month and the memories of what that place means to me are washing over me still and mixing with new relevance. There are a few changes abreast in my family; namely, a parent growing sicker. I think memories surface unexpectedly sometimes to help you sort out something current.
The beach, Crane beach, is a beach I’d go to often over the course of the summer with my family growing up–me, my mom, dad, and three brothers–all of us packed into the old silver Toyota van. I remember sharing a side of my older brother’s headphones–my brother who was obsessed with everything Madonna–and listening to Who’s That Girl on repeat all the way to Ipswich. I remember spending hours there, the thrill of avoiding the swarms of horseshoe crabs in the water. I remember us, hot and steeped in sun, stopping at dusk for ice cream and hot dogs on the way home.
Last month, standing on the shore there in the cold with my own little girl, I looked up and saw a place next door that I’d never once visited. On the top of an overlooking hill, nestled right up next to the ocean, is an old summer estate. It’s been around since the turn of the century, I’ve since learned, and it’s a popular place for events and other summertime visits, but I was never aware of it growing up–on our trips to the beach, we were in it for the waves. But on this day last month, we had no ice cream to get to, so we stopped at the fancy, old place on our way out.
We found strange, beautiful things there in the cold. Things that were put away for Winter, dried up until Spring. There was plenty of quiet to be found, too. An introvert’s dream–no checking in, no paying admission, and not many other people at all.
Lungs filled, eyes soothed, living with strangeness, memories revived.