Tuesday was another travel day. I swear, I was absolutely sick of seeing the inside of my Jeep Cherokee by then. Sick of it. Thanksgiving Day was going to be spent at my grandmother’s house in Sumter, near the center of the state, but I wanted to go to my mother’s house in Conway, which is down near the coast. I needed to see the ocean.

I took the ocean completely for granted when I lived in Conway. Myrtle Beach, mecca for golfers and sun-worshippers, was nothing more than a place where I found summer jobs when I was growing up. It held no mystery for me, no sense of joy or wonder, and nothing all that intriguing. The Beach was just a place to go find a job, hang out sometimes, and then leave before stupid people started shooting at you. I only knew the dark side of The Beach, and I wanted very little to do with any of it. In the summer, I only went there to go to work. In the winter, I never went at all. I openly cursed the droves of people creeping through my town, bumper to bumper, inchworming their way to the tourist traps and dirty ocean, making my 12 mile ride to work last over 2 hours, in some instances. The Beach meant nothing to me. It was just another place.

It’s funny sometimes how things you disregard become the very things you crave, the very things your soul begs for in a constant, whispering voice in your head. After I went to college, I very rarely returned to the ocean, and once I moved to Dallas, I never did. But in the weeks and months preceding my trip east, I realized that I had a growing urge to see the ocean. I didn’t know why…it never held any appeal to me before, and I really didn’t know why I wanted to go. But I did. We made plans to drive the extra distance and time to go down to my mother’s house so that we could go see the edge of the world.

We got into town after 8pm, and were immediately greeted by my mom and my sister, neither of whom I had seen in 2 years. Two years is too long. But life can get all up in your ass sometimes, and makes it difficult to get on the road or get on a plane, and turns months into years before you even realize it. My kids were little when they last saw their grandma, and now they damn-near ask to borrow my electric shaver. So when I stepped out of the Jeep and saw Mom and Sis standing there, hugs were the only language spoken. You know how some hugs are too long? These weren’t those. My sister, out of jail now, is living in Washington D.C. with some relatives and working a couple of jobs while trying to get her life back on track. Mom is steady, hanging in there after multiple small strokes, and still working and doing nearly everything she used to do. It was fuel for my psyche to see them both.

The next morning I wanted to do something I had never done before. I wanted to go see my father’s grave. For so long, all I could stand to feel about him was anger and resentment, and I refused to even think about him in any positive way whatsoever. But lately I’ve started really examining things, and me holding all that fury toward him does absolutely nothing except leave another stain on my life, to match the one he left. I decided to let that go. I still have my issues with him, but he wasn’t all bad. I enlisted my sister to take me to the cemetery, because he’s buried in an old family cemetery that isn’t easily accessible, and I hadn’t been there since his funeral, when I was a bit too preoccupied to check the directions. I bought some flowers, and we went. I wasn’t nervous or sad or anything…just ready. It had been long enough. But when we got there, the anger came back – not at my father, but at the rest of my paternal family who still lives in the area. My father is buried right beside my grandparents and my uncle. He doesn’t have a marker or a headstone because, quite frankly, there was no money for that at the time. I got left with a lot of past due bills and next to no insurance, and had to come out of pocket just to finance his funeral. And the anger issues prevented me from correcting that later on. I’m far from perfect. But the reason I got angry was because my grandmother, who died after my grandfather, didn’t have a marker or headstone either. Evidently my father and siblings tore through whatever insurance money there was, and so her grave also lies unmarked. The other reason I was pissed was because the gravesites looked like an overgrown swamp. No one had done anything to take care of them except my sister, who doesn’t even LIVE there anymore. My cousins, some of whom live no more than 5 miles away? Nothing. And that’s their grandparents too. It just pissed me off to no end, and I’m going to work to rectify both situations from here. I obviously can’t count on them.

After paying my respects, we packed our things up and headed toward the ocean. The first startling fact revealed itself immediately: the old amusement park, The Pavilion, was gone. Instead of this:


Or this:


I saw this:


Yeah. They closed it all down. All of it. I was so disappointed. But life goes on. We went on down to the beach, where we took off our shoes and socks. It being November and a balmy 75 degrees, it was too cold to actually consider swimming, but it was enough to just be there, at the ocean, looking out and seeing the rim of the world for as far as the eye could see.

Well, it was enough for most of us.

We instructed both kids to just get their feet wet since neither was wearing a swimsuit, seeing as how we weren’t going swimming. So, true to form, 8YO got his feet wet…


…as well as every other part of his body. Eventually he ended up like this:


That’s right. Shirt off, fully immersed in water that felt colder than Dick Cheney’s defibrillator. Seriously, I put one toe in the water and yelped like a puppy does when it discovers what a cat’s claws are for. I swear I saw penguins. But 8YO didn’t give a happy damn about the cold water. He played in the surf for a good 45 minutes, while we just stared at him. Even 4YO (soon to be 5YO, this Sunday) had enough sense to stay dry…




After soaking in the sunlight and playing in the sand and water, we packed up our things, bought 8YO some new clothes, and got back in the Jeep, headed to my grandmother’s house in Sumter. Another leg on on the journey. I’ll miss the ocean, but I won’t let so much time go by until I see it again. Maybe my desire to see the ocean helped me also handle going to my dad’s grave…maybe it was just the catalyst I needed to mend fences, and then climb over them. You never know.


More to come.

By the way, my birthday is on the 10th.

Just sayin’.

And there’s a link to an Amazon Wish List on my sidebar, over there on the right.

Just sayin’.