Thursday, June 2, 2011

Jacksonville Beach, Florida

As a surprise for me for our 39th Anniversary and also for Memorial Day, Mike made reservations at the Quality Inn in Jacksonville Beach, Florida for the weekend. We went down on Saturday after he got off work and came home on Tuesday. We really didn't do a lot--just relaxed. But I have to say, as much as I love Jax Beach, somehow this trip made me sad.

Everyone tells me I have such a great memory--I remember things most people don't. It can be great to be able to remember where we put something, or who did something for us that we need done again, or when we did something. But it can also be a curse when your memories take over.

On this trip the first thinkg I thought of was, "the last time we drove down here and stayed in Jax Beach was on our way to and from burying my father in Alabama. That was just last March. I also thought of my dad because we passed the hotel in Richmond Hill where he always stayed on his way to our house. I also thought of my mother. She used to love to read all the road and river signs--the ones that were odd like, for instance, Okefenokie. She was always going to find the place with the strangest name and go live there.

I also thought of the year we traveled this road to go to Pennsacola so we could spend the very first Christmas with our very first grandchild. Now she is 7 years old, and has two younger brothers. She no longer lives in Pensacola, but in Lemoore, California, and I also have another granddaughter in Alaska, and I am scared to death I will never see any of them again.

Our room was on the water and was beautiful. On the east coast I think Florida has some of the most beautiful beaches. They are so white and are kept so clean. I love Jacksonville so much because when Mike was active duty we were stationed in Mayport. At first we lived in Jax Beach, and every day the kids and I used to go down on the beach to walk and look for sharks' teeth. I also felt I grew while we lived in Florida. Mike was gone a lot since he was on a ship, and I had to do everything. I had to be the mother and father and I also proved to myself and others I could do it all. Everywhere else we've been, including here in South Carolina I have Mike to lean on and if there is something needing done that I don't want to do, I know I can ask Mike and he will do it with no problem.

The Quality Inn is next to the Red Cross Building. This building has not changed since we were there. We lived there when Christopher started Kindergarten, and he will now be 37 years old in July. As I looked down the beach I could see Christopher, Victoria, our friends Sue and Amy Rubinstein and myself walking near the water and finding the sharks' teeth. Amy was fantastic at finding them and sometimes she would find one and draw a big circle and tell Christopher or Victoria to find the tooth. Somewhere around the house we still have the teeth in a little margarine cup. The Rubinsteins had tons of them. We never were as good as they were.

While things have changed in Jax Beach and Mayport, there is still enough that is the same that makes it feel comfortable. It is like when I go to Baltimore for a visit. I know I can never go home again, but there are some things that are still there that make it home.

My biggest fear in all of this is that I will always just have my memories. My children are adults and on their own. I am so afraid with them all being so far away I will never see them again. We don't even know where our son is and it kills me a little each day. He may have done things I disagreed with and we butted heads frequently, but he is still my son and I still love him. My daughter has been easier on me and we have gotten along better, although we have had our differences too. I love her very much too. My grandchildren are 7, 4 in July, 2 in July and 2 in August and as I have said I am afraid I will die and never see any of them again. I have more love than I ever thought possible for all my grandchildren.

So I have my memories, and some are good and some are bad. I wish I had a switch in my head that I could turn off to stop remembering so much. Believe me, remembering is not always the greatest thing. I sometimes feel I am like my parents and grandparents and live in the past. I have two brothers that I have very few memories of--they are 6 and 4 years older than I. I don't know if one brother realized it but there were times when my father and mother were living that my feelings were hurt. He would tell me they were going to Alabama and my parents and my sister-in-law's parents and her sister, and my other brother and his wife, and my mother's brother and siser-in-law, who lived about a mile away, were all going to have a family reunion. I was never invited. Mike and I have never been invited to my brothers' homes, nor they to ours. I think when we were going to Florida this time one of the reasons I felt so sad was I don't think I will ever see either of my brothers again either. One lives in California and one in Pennsylvania. Up til now what caused us to all get together once in a while was my father, but now he is gone, and I feel as though my entire family is gone.

Well, maybe someday I will learn how to stop all this and remember only good things and the things I want to remember. Maybe someday we will have a huge family reunion and all of us will be together at least for a while. Maybe. It is something to dream about.

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