One by one, the family departs. First the young couple who must return to our nation’s capitol to meet their grown-up job responsibilities. A weekend they’re given, but their excitement at life allows no room for regret.
We have a few precious days without leave-taking before my mother and Elli pull from the driveway. They are returning to check on my dad who brought us to Ocean Isle Beach when we were too young to know a tradition was underway. For the first year since that beginning—1971? 1972? we debate amongst ourselves—Daddy is not here, too ill to make the trip. Standing on the hot concrete, Hannah, Marcee and I lift our arms like Mother always does, in greeting to the newcomers, in waving good-bye to the departing.
When Tom bundles Cory and Meg into the Camero, headed for the airport, I cannot go. With not enough room for me and the luggage, I lose out. Instead, we three remainders hop from diner to diner, seeking a place still serving breakfast. As I order my cat-head biscuit, I feel again their arms around me. Tom’s son, his girlfriend, gracious “first-timers” who joined us for this our annual trip to the beach before thanking all for being included and hugging goodbye and leaving.
In the quiet, we watch a video Elli sent of Daddy with his favorite caretaker. We wash the sandy beach towels as we prepare for our own leave-taking. Before that happens, we sit on the porch and watch the blue beach umbrellas flap in the wind. The white-headed waves roll into shore, and we remember those who were with us this week, in body, in spirit. I try not to cry. It is so quiet.
here’s to creative synthesis . . .