Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)
TITLE: Grand Beach
By Helga Doermer
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Along the wide beach, children built sand castles and splash in the bathtub warm waters.
Parents lounge in lawn chairs beneath their umbrellas. Singles and couples saunter the length of the inviting shore. Swimmers and Frisbee players weave around each other. Sailboats and surfboards dot the horizon. For years, it was an annual meeting place for our extended family. A bittersweet memory of our last gathering lingers there.
Energy ran high as our five families met to celebrate my dad’s birthday, and the heat of a day in July. (We wait for days like this all winter as we shiver in our thick wooly sweaters.) As the sun rose to mid morning, a tumble of people, blankets, beach towels, sun screen bottles, picnic baskets, coolers and water toys piled onto the shore. The kids were excited about boating and skiing. The adults were happy to catch up on each others lives.
By late afternoon, I was ready for a time of quiet. Knowing my mother would also enjoy a brief hiatus of calm, I invited her to join me for a walk. We left our festive families to wander for a while. Walking the beach, cool waters rippled across our feet and warm sun cascaded over our near naked bodies. The breeze of a cooling wind whispered across our skin. We idled in conversation. As we spoke of our responsibilities as women, wives and mothers, I became aware of subtle shift in the nuance of our exchange. Until that day, I had thought of myself as offspring relating to the woman who had birthed me and nurtured me with her love. Our relationship had been that of mother and mentor supporting a daughter. Yet on that day, as we walked the beach, the distance between us diminished. Before we rejoined our families again, I recognized that the woman beside me was not only my mother but also a close friend.
The memory is bittersweet. For now when I pace the fine stretch of sand under the burning sun, it is with an aching awareness. There will be no next summer to share with my mother. Even as our relationship blossomed into friendship and I anticipated many more walks together, she departed from this world before summer came again.
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