A few days ago I was sitting on our balcony watching a dad play in the ocean with his two small children. I reflected on the passage of time. It seems but the blink of an eye ago that beach scenario would have been Jerry and me with our five. And instead of today when we have a hard time getting up by nine, it would have been more like 6:30 or 7 AM to match the getup time of our brood.
In the 1970’s we went in with my brother Pete and his wife Louise and purchased a two bedroom beach condo on the Delaware shore. We alternated our beach time with them. And on some occasions we went together. When the two families combined that meant the nine children were on sleeping bags in the living room – dining room area. That might seem like a lot but it worked. The nine children were close in age having all been born in a six year time period and they were all good friends. And as the children got older, friends were frequently added to the mix and there might be twelve or more young bodies occupying the floor space. When the children were small the large numbers worked well. As they got older and bigger it was a little tight.
I remember one time when the full cohort of children, cousins and friends were spread out on the floor, most already asleep, and Jerry and I and Pete and Louise were in our bedrooms, there was a knock at the condo door. We were going to respond but when we opened our bedroom door we could see that our oldest son had already welcomed the latest guest, a very pleasant teen, and was showing him a spot on the floor to put down his sleeping bag. We went back to bed. The next morning we were up early to get breakfast organized. There was no sign of last night’s late arrival. Oldest son reported that the teen had wakened, looked around at the various sleepers and asked what unit he was in. When told the number he said something like ” Oops, I am in the wrong place. I belong next door. ” He quickly gathered his stuff and left.
My mother, and her twin sister and husband also bought a condo in the same building. They divided their time between the beach and their Northern Virginia apartments and gradually they seemed to be spending more time at the beach – as long as their health permitted. They loved it when their children and grandchildren were beach present but they also carved out their own social life. They were good swimmers and excellent bridge players. They built a special relationship with the condo pool lifeguards who were rather lax on calling adult breaks for the pool. But many times when Mom and Aunt Marg arrived, a pool break was called immediately. No one seemed to mind – I think the parents of the little children in the pool were glad for the break. And Mom and Aunt Marg were happy to do their water exercises in an empty pool.
We are filling this final week of our 2022 Florida time with our favorite activities. Last Saturday night we went to the Elks Club St.Patty’s dinner dance with our friends Janet and Jerry. They are the special friends who like so many of the same things we do: dancing, bridge, and MSNBC to name a few. The Elks Club and Shuckers( which I have mentioned in a previous blog) are the only places we have found in this part of Florida that offer monthly dinner dances. Prior to our attendance at the Elks dance functions I have known very little about this fraternal organization. I was surprised to learn that it has nearly a million members nationwide and that it has been in existence for one hundred and forty one years. From what I can gather it seeks to promote patriotism and a sense of family and community. The dance was so much fun. We stayed to the very end. We had never done that before. We were treated to their special end of the evening ceremony. All were asked to gather in a circle. An Elks Club officer stood in front of us with an American flag and asked us to bow our heads for a moment of reflection honoring our veterans and then we all sang God Bless American. It was a very powerful experience!!!
Sunday we attended mass at Holy Family Church. We miss our parish at home when we are gone for three months but Holy Family has turned out to be an ideal spiritual home replacement for these snowbirds. We love its inclusiveness. The congregation seems to be a mix of hispanic; philippine and seniors of a multitude of different backgrounds.
The rest of this “final” week has been filled with golf, bridge walks, riverwalks, a beach walk, and dinner and bridge with Janet and Jerry. They came to our condo on Monday and Thursday night we headed to their home. We will continue our weekly bridge with these good friends but it will of course be on line till next we are together. Perhaps they will add on a trip to Virginia when they drive to Kentucky to visit their family.
Reflecting on this week I must also mention watching the confirmation hearings for Ketanji Brown Jackson. She is so eminently qualified I could barely maintain my composure at the attacks against her by some of the Republicans. Judge Jackson handled these attacks perfectly. Not me. I was irate at the grandstanding of her attackers.
It is now late Friday afternoon. Our car is packed and we are ready to head to the auto train tomorrow morning. We are sitting on our balcony. Jerry is reading and I am finishing up this blog. The ocean is relatively calm. A sailboat is slowly going by. We have been watching three pelicans glide over the ocean in formation . They skim the ocean looking for prey. And then suddenly all three dive in. It is a special Florida treat that I will miss, but it is time to return home. I am eager and ready as I bear in mind the words of TS Eliot, ” Every moment is a fresh beginning.”