Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Fond Farewell

The final morning of vacation is always the hardest. As I sit on the front porch looking out over Old Orchard Beach, the sun kisses my face with it's early morning rays.  The surf this morning is larger than usual, because of Hurricane Irene moving up the coast.  

At 7 a.m. people migrate to the beach.  There are chairs being stratigically placed for those who want to sunbath.  Small tents are being set up for toddlers who need protection from the mid day sun.  There are walkers, joggers and runners of all shapes and sizes, some have two legs, others have four.  The polls that hold umbrellas are being buried like Ostrich heads, deep in the sand, for beach lovers who need shade so they can enjoy their magazines or a favorite book.  Older men have placed their fishing poles in those funny white steel tubes so they can sit back, relax and only hope they catch whatever lurks in the deep waters of the ocean.  But the thing I watch the most this morning are the curling white waves that dance up in on the sandy beach.

I've always found waves and the power of them very interesting.  Children fear them not and go running into the ocean with their boogie boards, looking for the "perfect" wave.  The walker strolls at the very edge, flirting with these waves, so they do not get their shoes too wet.  Dogs run in and out of the white foam, frolicking along, as if they were retreiving a tennis ball for their master.

But for me, the waves remind me of change.  Change we cannot control.  This is our 13th year at OOB and I call it our "home away from home".  It's the one place my family feels peaceful and truly become who we are.  When my father was dying in 2010, from bone cancer, I needed to come to this special place to regroup. It was April, it was cold, damp and wet.  This "home away from home" was the  place I could clear my head, regroup and go back home knowing I could handle whatever would be thrown at me.

These waves reminds me of a song by Bob Dylan - The Times They Are A-Changin'

This year, our stay at Old Orchard brought changes. Instead of my boys digging holes on the beach to play in, their 14th year of life took them walking along to the pier with friends, gone for hours, returning like pirates with booty they won at the local arcade.  Hanging with them on the beach playing paddle tennis and bocce ball.

While they were gone, I watched other children dig and play, and remembered all the race car tracks we made on the beach, the giant sand castles, digging at the edge of the surf for sea worms or running along trying to catch a seagull.

The Times They Are A-Changin' ... and my families tides are changing.

These waves represent memories to me.  I can set and stare at them for hours with each wave representing the different ages of my children.  

The smaller waves bring fond memories of their first 6 years, all they could and couldn't do.  Making sure my husband and I were there to protect them and keep them safe. Holding their hand as we waded into the surf with them, assuring them it was okay and we'd be there with them every step of the way.  We wouldn't let the waves separate us. 

The medium size waves reminds me of ages 7 - 11.  These waves brought curiosity and interest, daring them to get on that boogie board and set out for independence. Testing the waters, finding out what they could handle on their own. Our encouraging words to "get in there and ride that wave", "jump in and get your feet wet", standing by with waves now separating us. A separation that would get bigger as they grew and as the tides changed.

The Times They Are A-Changin'

And now at 14, the larger waves that are rising up and pounding with such force are the waves of the future.  The boys strive to make it out to these waves with their boards and other grown men, taking on the challenge to ride the beast without any fear.  These waves are strong, calling out to my children to come, leaving us standing alone, out of reach, helpless, pushing us even further away from them.  

As beautiful and alluring as these waves are, they can be cruel and deceptive, not knowing what's to come.  I can only hope we have taught our children to be cautiously curious, adventurous and careful with the tides of life.  These waves are like my children.  They become bigger and stronger each day, putting distance between us, only to fill the shore with memories. Memories that will bring me great comfort and peace, just like Old Orchard Beach has done all these years.

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