Body for Alaska, Heart for the Ocean

Fall Break of 2007, I wanted to take the girls to San Diego.  Moonshine’s dream was to go see a panda bear and I wanted to make that happen.  My dad had a timeshare that he’d moved to Disneyland for us a couple of years before and I asked if he’d be able to move one to San Diego for us.  That way I’d only have to pay for gas and food.  Any other time I’ve taken a trip, I’ve piecemealed the tickets over the year so it wouldn’t be one big expense.

I asked my dad if we could use his timeshare and he said he wanted to go to San Diego too and we could make it a family trip.  We’d never done that before.  I mean, we’ve met him in Pagosa Springs, I’ve met him in Albuquerque for a weekend, but we’d never really traveled together, especially with the kids.  He moved to Arizona when I was pregnant with Tenderheart and here we were seven years later going on a family trip.  He’d gone from spending time with two toddlers to opinionated young people, 7, 9 and 12; and they weren’t used to being around kids.

On that previous Disneyland trip, I had asked them to keep Tenderheart who wasn’t even two yet because I was taking the girls to Disneyland by myself and was going to leave Tenderheart because she was too young to enjoy it.  He said no and my mom came up and took her back to Oklahoma for me.  Mind you, he’s retired and we actually drove down to see him a few days before we drove over to Anaheim.  It’s all good, there are people in life who aren’t really “kid people”.

So here we are in the fall of 2007 in one car, with our luggage on the top of his car like the Griswold’s driving from Phoenix to San Diego, all six of us, you can imagine my anxiety. The first time we went to the beach, the girls and I got wet and sandy and we didn’t have towels or anything because we were just going to lunch but we were so enthralled by the ocean, we just kept getting further and further in.  They were not thrilled that we tracked all that sand into their car.  And even though I have the body for Alaska, I discovered on that trip that my heart is at the beach.  I loved just sitting in the sand watching and listening to the waves, it’s magical.  Watching the sun go down, watching the tide go out, combing for shells, it really was the most amazing time.

There were a couple of times during that trip where the girls said, I think they hate us.  And I’d say, they don’t hate us, they’re just not used to being around kids.  And we’re a lot.  There’s four of us and we come with a lot of stuff and energy and excitement.  And despite all that, it was one of the best trips I’d ever taken and I’ll be forever grateful for that time.

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Because little did I know just a mere six months later my dad would be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and he’d be dead seven months after he took this picture of us on the beach.  He had symptoms we didn’t understand at the time, irritability, trouble with his gall bladder, he had trouble walking.  But he had the ability to capture this beautiful moment when I was standing in my favorite place with my favorite people taking for granted that my dad had years and years ahead of him.

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