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  • After we'd spent part of the morning on the beach - catching probably the longest stretch we've had without rain so far this week - she said, "The last time I sat on this beach was with Mom." Yeah, I'd thought about that too.

    She loved this beach so much. She actually loved any beach - she had a profound love of the ocean - but this beach had been where so many fond memories resided. As her family grew and multiplied, here we all gathered, each year more coming in.

    I have two "standout" memories of her and this beach - well, actually three. The first was 12 years ago, when we moved her down here from New Jersey. Her dream had always been to live near a beach. After Dad had died, things had been kind of rough, at first. Dad had handled a lot of the affairs of business for them, all those years, and there was a learning curve for her to get used to doing that herself. But she learned, and got used to living her life on her own - after 51 years with him - and after 5 years, she made her move.

    She bought a place that was still being built, less than a mile from the beach in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. The move was tough - going through all the stuff, figuring out what to bring, what to let go of - but, once we got everything in her new place, before we got it all settled and all the boxes unpacked, we took a break, and we walked the beach together.

    Never had I felt closer to her than I did on that walk. We actually didn't talk a whole lot - words weren't necessary. Her profound joy, as she first fully realized that she had done it - she had fulfilled her dream - and now this beach, the ocean, were hers for the taking - were all that needed to be said. The silence between us, as we walked, was pregnant with her joy, and her hope for a new life here, a life to build from this moment, a life of her own, as her own person.
  • And, what a life it was. She had such a full life, over the next 11 years, here by this beach, this ocean. She embraced her new life, and she lived it the way she saw fit, and filled it with the things she loved to do, and the people she loved, and made new friends, friends whose knowing her, lives changed immeasurably. She had such an impact on people. She really couldn't help herself. She just had such personal power, and believed that everyone had a right to tap into, and come from their own personal power. She had a way of helping you to see, and do, just that.

    The other two beach memories with Mom were last summer. Our week here in Debordieu one year ago, was a tough one for her. Because of her leg infections and being new on the oxygen, getting down to the beach was out of the question. I offered a couple times, but she declined. It was too much. I mostly stayed with her in the beach villa, as I was beginning my month long shift being here with her.

    Later in the month, as she regained some strength and we'd gotten more used to the portable oxygen tank, I offered to take her to the beach again, and this time she said, "let's go!" We had a glorious hour together on the beach, before a heavy downpour chased us off, drenching us to the bone, both of us laughing as we struggled up the ramp, through the sand, to the car.

    Visiting her later the following month, while Dorothy was here with her, and she was not feeling well at all, she had confided to us at dinner that she thought things were going to be going quickly, now. Next day, after sleeping most of the morning, she awoke full of energy and wanted to go out for lunch. We had a glorious lunch at one if her favorite places in Pawleys, then she said "let's go to the beach!"

    We did, and spent the best three hours I've ever enjoyed on a beach. For that moment, she was no longer dying, she was just so full of life, and the joy she exuded was beautiful.

    She would leave us ten days later. I will always hold, and cherish with all of my heart, those 3 hours with Mom on that beach. They were the best.

    The other day, as brother Chris brought the beach chairs over from his place to the beach villas, I was helping him unload them from his car. "I brought Mom's chair, so we can set it up, and she can be with us."

    I know she appreciated that thoughtful gesture of Chris' - me too.
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