a journal of...

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Monday, June 19, 2017

At The Shore

My aunt tells me, "I'd like to see the shore once more..."  My uncle agrees that it would be good to have a break from the usual, their very nice but more restrictive apartment life in the retirement village they moved to last year.  My aunt will be 98 in a month, and with both sight and hearing challenges, and her heart giving us pause, a breath of sea air seemed understandingly appealing.

To be truthful, there was a lot of resistance, others wondering, protectively, at the sense of such a journey at her age and in her condition.  My uncle, too, also a late nonagenarian, might find it as difficult to be driven the three hours from their present home to their old one, and adjust to the different space.

But in all her years, she hasn't missed one shore stay for the 72 years the house has been in the family, and strangeness wasn't part of the equation for either of them.  So why not go once more to the place where, as my mother used to say, life was "easy in, easy out" and at the very edge of the world find some well-deserved peace and familiarity?  Sometimes, safety is a excuse we use (though with all good intention) to save others, and sometimes ourselves, from the risk of living well.

So off we went.  The weather for the most of our week was grand--beautiful blue skies, calm ocean, refreshing breezes even as the heat soared inland, the early-season pleasure before the vacation crowds began.  One day we even managed to sit on the beach, watching the waves roll in.  As the weekend approached, the wind shifted direction, the waves grew frillier, and the currents drew in their brows, promising rip tides.  But the sky only sprinkled now and then on us those days, leaving plenty of time to walk the boardwalk a few times a day, sit on the deck in sun or shade, shop for new shoes and beach clothes, meet with family we don't see often, and entertain visitors.  At night there were cards and cribbage, and the fishing boat lights and the corp of engineer dredgers at work (the effects of hurricanes linger) against the blackness. In other words, shore life as usual.

The week went quickly; I was sorry not to have scheduled us a bit a longer, as it was clear how invigorating it was to them.  They walked longer and longer; they took stairs more surely (and sometimes startlingly more independently), and were up for anything.  It was, as my aunt kept saying, "a good change".

And for me, it was a hopeful and instructive lesson in how to live.

Change is most of the time good for us.  It's always a risk turning blind corners (all corners are blind, even the ones we think we can see around), not knowing how the future will turn out.  But it can also be a means of believing that, yes, we're still alive and up for anything.  That we still have the courage to face the unforeseen and the strength to accept it.

Especially when we're at the very shore of the biggest life event of all.

Meanwhile, the younger generation, still oblivious to the vulnerability of age, picks up where we leave off.  They're crabbing this afternoon, after dowsing each other with water balloons on the deck and shoveling their way to buried treasure in the sand.  Nights, they do puzzles, try bingo and an ocean version of Monopoly.  Just as we did.  Sometimes the years bring no change at all, a most welcome, most gratifying thing to behold...part of the pleasure of growing older.