Several of Melissa’s Arizona family members visited our area last week, renting some cottages at a nearby beach. They were here to celebrate a 50th birthday, attend a family wedding, and have a reunion on the same shores their mother, Jeannie, brought them to when they were young. The week also marked one year since Jeannie passed away.
I sat back on the beach and listened to stories of days gone by and watched a part of Melissa come alive as she recalled times spent with this side of her family. I learned that her older cousins, when babysitting her, had to pick the chicken out of her chicken noodle soup because she didn’t like the texture, and how, despite the feigned aggravation with which they told the story, they really didn’t mind because they loved her so much.
I watched as they created elaborate sculptures on the beach in honor of their mother who was an artist in every sense of the word, with just one of her mediums being sand.
I was honored to be a part of new memories being made.
I’m in awe of the effort everyone made to make the week happen. One cousin flew in to surprise the birthday girl (her sister). Others took day trips to the beach to spend time together. Despite the logistics and day-to-day busyness of life, people showed up.
It reminded me of the annual reunion my family used to have at the beach. Those times are some of my most favorite memories. Running around with my little nieces and nephews. Boogie boarding in the waves. Going on the rides at the nearby carnival. Playing elaborate games created by my brother-in-law while all wearing our Richardson Reunion shirts.
Now those “little” nieces and nephews are married, away at college, or busy with jobs and school activities.The demands of life step in and pull us apart.
It’s easy to take the people in my life for granted; assuming they’ll always be there to visit. But it was a stark reminder, as I watched Dina, Lora, Chris, and Mike reminisce about their mom and the times they had on this very beach and as they scattered her ashes into the ocean, that life is unpredictable and fragile.
It’s been a busy, fast-moving summer here, but I’m determined to squeeze every last drop out of it, including rallying as many of my family members together as possible for a season-end beach day over Labor Day weekend. Because I want those times back. Because it’s worth the effort. Because even if no one else comes, I’ll still be there with my family – Melissa and me – soaking in every last ray of sunshine.