Category Archives: Family

The only beach on earth

The other day, whilst helping my bff Lindsay with her classroom, I met a cute pregnant gal who basically saved Lin from a meltdown of epic proportion. My dear friend is going to be teaching kindergarten this year (not to mention making her teaching debut) and needless to say the STRESS LEVEL HAS BEEN ELEVATED A BIT. And while Lin truly feels that she is doing what God has planned for her and that everything is going to be fine, walking into a blank room filled with boxes upon boxes of kindergarten paraphernalia (that unfortunately does not include directions on where it goes, what it’s for, and when it should be used) can be a little overwhelming.

Especially when you employ your best friend to help you, and it turns out that her only knowledge of anything having to do with Kindergarten stems from the year she attended. In which her only real memory is the day she threw up and got to go home early.

Enter cute and pregnant Allison, the Teacher Extraordinaire who came in and saved the day. She knew the answers to important things like what exactly Lin needed to buy, how to set up the room, and how to use the laminator which we lovingly named, The Death Trap for Cute Decor. Allison was the perfect balance of giving helpful advice and direction while also letting Lin decide how she wanted things to be.

Now the point of this story actually has nothing to do with Lin and her classroom, which is now so cute there is sugar dripping off the walls.

While eating lunch that day, there were a few moments where the conversation drifted from bulletin boards, centers, and Kindergarten curriculum to important things like, say, the beach. Allison was telling us about how she and her husband had just gotten back from the Panama City. Apparently, her husband and his family had been going to the same place for over 20-something years and to them there was just No Other Beach. I mean, gah. She told us this while rolling her eyes, and we laughed and rolled our eyes too because me and Lin are all about fitting in with cute pregnant teachers.

But, about mid-roll, I realized a couple things. 1) If my mother were there she would definitely have made a comment about my eyes getting stuck, and 2) oh, the hypocrisy at work.

Our family has been going on a beach trip every year to the same beach since my brother and I were just wee little tots. And while I know, logically and geographically, there are, of course, other beaches in the world, a summer is just not a summer until I have laid on the sandy shores of St. Augustine, FL. Alas, there is just No Other Beach to us.

So, all of that to say, I just returned home from No Other Beach, and it was the picture of a perfect va-cay. I would generally use these next paragraphs to go into detail about all the fun activities, cool new restaurants, etc, but it is hard to form paragraphs when the extent of our stay read something like this:

We woke up. We went to the beach. We had lunch. Back to the beach. We had supper. Bed time. (Add in lots of good time and good laughs with a lot of really good people). And repeat.

Like I said. Seriously perfect.

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The Popster

He lived to be 93 years old. I think I always realized that living that long was amazing, but when you spend 20 years worth of birthdays, holidays, and everydays with a person, you really don’t think all that much about how old he is. All those years I was concerned with issues such as whether or not he was going to look over at me with his little crooked smile and point to the fridgerator where they kept the ice cream sandwiches.

The code for: Go get you a treat, Babe.

Or how funny it was that everytime we ever gathered to eat a meal, my grandmother would fix his plate full of the phenomenon that is southern cooking, and he would just hang his head as he proceeded to tell her that he “DIDN’T NEED ALL THAT FOOD, MOTHER.” And then he’d eat the whole plate. And be looking for dessert shortly thereafter.

Yes, the man was a lover of all things sweet, and he asked for a diet coke on his death bed. I’m telling you, he was a man of my own heart.

So no, I didn’t think about his age all that much. I just knew he was my daddy’s daddy, and that he had no greater joy than that of experiencing life with his son’s son and daughter.

Pop was consistent, calm, and content—-in his life, his beliefs, and his faith. He had funny little phrases and a wagon full of chracteristic little quirks about him that you could always count on. He was so full of subtle, stable love and humor that when I think about him now my heart could just sprout little wings and fly right up to Heaven.

Whenever anyone in our family saw Pop, he always started the encounter with the same quick and precious greeting. “Hey, Babe,” he would say all cute and sweet. Even when he was in the hospital the weeks before he died and was barely saying much, he busted out the famous heybabe as I walked up to his bedside during an visit one evening. I will never forget that. It just somehow summed up everything I loved about him.

The Popster, as we affectionately called him from time to time, didn’t live the fast pace existence of today—-where every moment has a tendancy to be scheduled, including church and family.

To him, those aspects of life were always put first. To him, those aspects of life were like breathing. Life didn’t mean anything without them.

He ate three home-cooked meals a day, most prepared by his devoted and fiery bride of 61 years (although he had a way in the kitchen and made the best pecan pie as well as mean egg sandwich). He had one phone line and it was plugged into the wall. The most technological he ever got was a battery operated clock I gave him one Christmas. Amazingly, it also told the temperature in the room AND doubled as a flashlight. We had to finally just settle on realizing that we would NEVER be able to know HOW THEY DID THAT. Each time I came over after he recieved the Best Gift Ever, he always made some comment about it, sometimes handing it to me to fix because he had pushed a wrong button or because the time was slightly off.

It was like our thing.

After he died, it was really important to me to make sure that silly old clock stayed with me. I keep it in a safe place now, and when I look at it, I am reminded that while his time here on earth has stopped, his 93 year-old body has been exhanged for a timeless one. But I’ll bet his eyes still have that signature twinkle.

No, he didn’t live in the same crazy world that I do, but he loved the same God. He put first the most important gifts that God gives us, and his faith is one that will forever inspire and calmly remind me of the definition of true devotion.

Happy Birthday, Pop. I love you.

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