Lessons from the Beach

One of the earliest memories I have as a child is walking barefoot on the beach with my dad. We lived in a house beside the ocean, so we walked along the shore nearly every day in the summer. Sometimes I held his hand; other times he gave me a piggyback ride, especially when my legs got tired on the walk back home.

My father always loved the ocean, so living in Ocean Bluff must have been a dream come true. Of course it was only natural he would expect his kids to love the ocean too. My mom, on the other hand, preferred sunbathing and wading — anything to keep her hair from getting wet.

Standing below my childhood home in Ocean Bluff, MA (2017)

I’m sure one of my parents’ greatest concerns was making sure their kids could swim. With waves crashing just a few feet below our patio, the fear of drowning was very real. I was probably around 7 years old when my brother and I were signed up for Red Cross swimming lessons held at a neighboring beach. We rode our bikes to the early morning lessons after school let out for the summer. I remember how cold that water was, and how my lips were blue and my teeth were chattering all the way home. I just jumped in the water and did what I was told figuring that was the quickest way I could get out and get warm again!

I’m not sure what those lessons accomplished, but I didn’t learn to swim. I think I got the basics of treading water, but that was about it. I also remember going to a summer camp that had an indoor pool, the first one I had ever seen. I was always the only kid in the shallow end, watching the other kids jumping and splashing around in the deep end. I didn’t learn to swim there either.

My cousins had an in-ground pool in their back yard. One Fourth of July we drove over there for a family gathering. I think my dad secretly hoped this would be  the day I would finally learn to swim. I watched him with envy as he dove off the diving board again and again. He made it look so easy! He kept encouraging me, telling me I could do it, but he didn’t pressure me.

I was tired of clinging to the edge. I remember slowly walking out onto that diving board, taking a deep breath, and jumping off.

I was terrified, but knowing my dad was watching me and was close by gave me the courage I needed to take that leap. And even though I got water up my nose, I didn’t drown. I bobbed to the surface and felt such a rush of excitement. I did it! I absolutely loved it and spent the rest of that day diving into the pool.

I knew swimming in the ocean would be different, but now I had the skills — and confidence — I needed to swim in deeper water. My dad taught me how to float, dive under the waves, body surf and snorkel. After that, I pretty much lived in the ocean every summer until we moved away.

To this day, even though I live far away from my childhood home, the ocean is my still happy place. It makes me think of my dad and the amazing times we shared together.

Just like my Heavenly Father, I will always love him for giving me the courage to leap, and for staying close enough to rescue me if I fall below the surface.

The Wisdom of Nicky

Today, in honor of Daylight Saving Time, I thought I would introduce you to someone who has perfected the art of napping.  Meet Nicky, our beloved fuzzy feline.

The time change never seems to affect Nicky since he pretty much sleeps 24 hours a day. Nobody in our household would argue though that at the age of 21, this cat has certainly earned some extra hours of shut-eye.

The age calculator on catster.com stops at age 14, at which point an average indoor cat would be considered about 72 in human years. Apparently a cat ages the equivalent of 4 human years every 12 months of life after the age of 2. So following that logic, Nicky is now 100!

Nicky has seen a lot of action in his lifetime, and during his prime he was quite an impressive hunter! His right ear bears the scar of a skirmish with another neighborhood cat, and he has a bad hip and bum knee from a few too many late night adventures. His favorite hangout was always the storm drain. (What goes on in the sewer, stays in the sewer.)

Today he is strictly an indoor cat, although when warmer weather arrives he will occasionally cry to be let out at night. He likes to lounge on the cement patio, soaking up the warmth left by the summer sun. Even so, Nicky rarely wanders more than 10 feet from the house, having learned his lesson this past winter when a neighbor’s cat ambushed him, jumping out from beneath our porch steps. We didn’t even know a fight had occurred until an absess was discovered by our vet. Our kitty was gravely ill, but with the right meds and lots of prayers, he is back to spry his 100-year old self.

Polydactyl Paw

Nicky is a patient cat, who rarely puts up a fight even when we clip his plentiful nails. (He is a Polydactyl cat, and has two extra toes on each paw and hind feet.) He does protest, however, when my husband gets out the electric trimmer to shave the mats out of his thick fur in the summer. Who could blame him?

Nicky demands little from his humans, except that his Fancy Feast be served on time (7:00 am, regardless of the time change), and that we pet him when he jumps up beside us on the sofa.

A warm bed, a full belly, and a lot of unconditional love.❤ When it comes to life, does anything else really matter?