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Summer Dream

It had always been our dream to live on the water and, when we first saw that 40 foot Owens, we knew that we had found our new summer home.  She was magnificent with her teak floors and finely polished helm beneath the white canopy.  Below deck, a spacious galley accommodated two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and it even had a rotisserie oven.

The day my husband and I moved aboard, our hectic lives found an immediate reprieve and our stress was gone.  Life at the marina was relaxed and easy.  Watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee from the bow and the sunset with a glass of wine was such a superb experience each day, then to be rocked to sleep with a gentle current.  On the weekends, the long, wooden dock was ornamented with people grilling the fish they had caught that day before playing music and games with a few drinks in the evening.  Everyone was always at ease and willing to help out another.

It was Labor Day in 1995, the end of summer, and we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day.  The sun joyfully accented a cloudless sky, and my father had just come to town for a short visit.  We headed out, through the channel and across the Chesapeake Bay to a restaurant for a nice dinner and, after watching the majestic sunset over the glassy waters, we began our 30 minute trek back to the marina.  The bay was serene and quiet, with only two other boats in sight as we picked up our pace in the water while a flash of lightning lit up the distance.  No storms had been forecast so we continued on without a second thought until it became more frequent and coupled with claps of thunder.  Halfway to our destination, we decided to continue on to the marina rather than turn back toward the restaurant, but the storm descended on us quicker than we could have ever anticipated with strong wind gusts kicking up the waves and tossing around our boat.

“Let’s get our life jackets on,” my husband urged.  “It’s getting pretty rough out here.  For the ten minutes that followed, the boat was tossed violently around in the bay’s vicious waves while my husband struggled to maintain our course.  Suddenly, we felt the boat hit something in the water.  “We’re in forty feet of water,” he said.  “What could we have possibly hit?”

We watched in horror as the bow began to lower.  My husband grabbed the radio.

“Mayday, mayday, we’re going down,” I heard him say and my I lost my breath as he began to give our coordinates until the radio died.  I was stunned and panicked.  We were surrounded only by the silent night as I stood at the stern with my father, praying for God to, somehow, save us.  My husband’s experience in the Navy had left him level-headed and calm, tying together 3 bumpers from the boat and latching glow sticks to our life jackets.  “We’re going to stay on the boat for as long as we can and then swim to shore,” he instructed.

The bow sank and the galley quickly filled with water as we prepared for the worst.  When all that was left above water was the stern, I leaped outward, into the bay, the water so foreign to me but warm.  I hadn’t given notice that I was jumping and no one had given me the nod to do it, but something in me had suddenly given me the courage to clutch those bumpers and jump.  My father and husband followed and we swam away from the boat as quickly as we could, turning to watch it fall into the depths and leaving us to fend for ourselves.  The storm’s raging waves tossed us around like ragdolls and forced saltwater down our throats while the trio of bumpers held us together.  The feeling of things touching against my legs set my imagination into overdrive as I thought of sharks, jellyfish and whatever else might be swimming around us.  Still, my fear was overcome by my will to survive.  My husband kept assuring us that the waves were carrying us toward land, and I wondered how he was able to maintain such a calm manner but I was thankful.  My father, a Vietnam veteran, was also amazingly calm and it helped me tremendously in the fierce wind, rain and lightning from the squall.  Nearly two hours later, a long, rock jetty shooting out from a concrete wall came into view.

“The waves are going to push us into the rocks, which are razor sharp and will cut us up, so when we get close, lift your legs up as high as you can and let the waves carry us over them.  We’ll swim back to the jetty,” my husband said.  As tempted as I was to reach dry land, I did what he suggested and the waves carried us over the jetty.  My father chose otherwise and suffered several deep cuts from the barnacles, but he was out of the water, at least.

It took my husband and I another half hour, swimming against the waves, to reach the jetty and, when we finally did, we were ecstatically exhausted.  In our bare feet, we made our way across the large rocks to the concrete walls of what we recognized as the Norfolk Bridge-Tunnel.  The cars that drove so far above us would never have thought to look down and see us waving our glow sticks for their attention, especially in the ongoing storm but, fortunately, protruding from the wall were robust, steel pipes that allowed us to scale our way to the top, where we climbed over a rail.

Two stunned security guards appeared, asking where we had come from and, when we told them, they informed us that a sailboat had sank just before us, in almost the same spot.  Its tall mast is what we must have hit in the water that night.  We were blessed to make it in because the people from that boat never did.

At the hospital, my father got stitched up and a friend at the marina lent us their boat to stay on for the night.  We found out that several of them from the marina had heard our mayday call and started out to find us, even in the storm and, the following day, on the dock were blankets, clothes and other necessities donated from so many of our neighbors at Little Creek Marina.  Those people were our angels that day and we were so thankful.

The Coast Guard was never able to locate us since our radio had died in the middle of our mayday call but God carried us through.  Our dream only lasted that summer and, ironically enough, the name of the boat was Summer Dream.

 

Carrying My Weight

I remember how intimidated I was when I first walked into the gym a year ago.  It was an undersized space, crammed with equipment, and I couldn’t help the awkward feeling of everyone’s eyes on me.  I’m an average woman of 170 pounds, not necessarily overweight but certainly in need of some toning up, at least and, hey, shedding a few pounds wouldn’t have hurt.

It was a pretty typical scene with the men in the back, lifting weights, and the women up front on the treadmills, ellipticals and bikes.  I started out there, stretching and warming up with a ten minute bicycle workout.  I have to confess that, as someone whose only real form of exercise was working out with an occasional YouTube video, I knew next to nothing about the gym, much less a proper workout, but I did recognize that lifting weights was what I wanted to be doing.  I had read about the benefits of women lifting weights and was impressed by their results.  They weren’t bulky like I had imagined, yet their bodies were toned and defined.  I could see a noticeable difference between them and the women who only did cardio.

As a woman in her early forties, my aging body had crept up on me, almost without me noticing until, one day, I knelt in a store for something on the bottom shelf and struggled to get back up.  I knew that it would only get worse from there if I didn’t make a change.

I glanced back in the weightlifting area, from the cardio section, and saw a group of young twenty somethings playing music and talking sports amid their curls, chest flies and leg presses, and they all appeared to know one another with their comradery.  Needless to say, I felt intimidated and insecure about infiltrating their space in the small gym so I just decided that I would find a time when they weren’t in there to start the weights.  That didn’t happen.  Day after day that I returned, so did they, and I finally had to convince myself to just blend in, no matter how much I stood out.

I took a deep breath, put on the persona that I knew what I was doing and strutted back, pretending that I didn’t see their glances out of the corner of my eye.  Anxiety set in when I realized that I had focused so much on gathering my courage that I hadn’t even researched what exercises to do once I got there.  I had seen the types of workouts that they did but what were women supposed to do?  I had no idea so I pulled out my iphone for some quick exercises.

I made it through my hour long workout without even looking too unsteady and, when I got home that evening, I began to look up workouts online while paying attention to how the different pieces of equipment in the gym were supposed to be used.  Before I knew it, I had a routine and a schedule, and those guys became so used to seeing me there that they eventually stopped paying attention to me.

Since then, I continue my blend of cardio and weightlifting at the gym five to six days a week.  I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in my body’s energy levels, I feel healthy and I’ve built more muscle than I thought possible.

A Little Birdie Told Me

I didn’t have my father growing up, not my biological one anyway.  My mother explained to me, at a very young age, that the two of them had married young and I was a bit of a surprise to them, one that he just wasn’t quite ready for, so he had elected to walk away from both of us.  Of course, the news was disheartening to me, as it would be for any little girl at that age, but I was fortunate enough to have another man in my life, my mother’s boyfriend, who had chosen to be a father to me so the news really wasn’t as bad as it could have been for me.  My father’s absence had left me with a lot of questions and I couldn’t grasp how easy it had been for him to just walk away and forget his family, his only child, but I suppose I attributed it to his immature age.

I was seven years old when my mother and I were at a store and saw a woman holding a baby in her arms.  It was my father’s new wife and newborn son.  I remember that, more than being upset was my desire to meet them, talk to them and let them know who I was but, of course, my mother would never have allowed it so we walked away in silence.  My mother speaks of another time, when I was about four years old, that we saw my father and his family gathered at the park for a reunion and, even though they had clearly seen me, they all turned their heads the other way.

I always understood that my father just wasn’t going to be a part of my life and I accepted it without any other choice, but I could never understand how he could raise his second child without wanting to know his first.  A small part of me thought that he would contact me one day and explain his reasons for not being around but I always peered through the crowds in the mall or in stores, wondering if one of those men was him.  I had seen only a single photo of him that had been taken before I was born so I wouldn’t have known him if he was staring straight at me.  Still, I always looked for a man who favored me and for a boy, his son, who shared some of my features.

One day, when I was 21 and living on my own, I met a man through a mutual friend who turned out to be my father’s brother.  We had already interacted on several occasions without even realizing our common bond.  I resisted the temptation to assault him with questions about my father but I was certain that he would mention to him that he had met me, perhaps encouraging my father to do the same, especially since I was an adult.  Still, it never happened.

I went on with my life, got married and had a son of my own and, one day, when I was in my thirties, I received a Facebook message from my father’s son, introducing himself to me as my brother.  It was such a strange feeling even reading the word “brother” because I had always been an only child.  He was in his late twenties with a child of his own, a daughter.  I confirmed that I was, in fact, his sister and expressed to him my surprise that he had been told about me, given the fact that our father had never acknowledged me.  Strangely enough, we haven’t spoken since then.

A few years later, I received a call from someone who mentioned that my father was dying of cancer, his second bout, and that if I ever wanted to see him, it was time.  An unfamiliar blend of empathy and anger rushed through me, urging me to go get the apology that I deserved from him while showing him the daughter he missed out on, but the phone call hadn’t come from his family.  It had actually come from someone in my husband’s family who just happened to know him.  The request to visit him hadn’t come from him.  Even on his deathbed, my father seemingly still had no desire to see me, which took away any desire that I had to see him.  It was only about a week later when I came home from work to find the most vibrantly colored cardinal that I had ever seen lying dead on my covered front porch, something that had never happened before.

“That’s a sign that someone has died,” my cousin informed me, an epiphany that I had never before heard.  She was right because an hour later, I received word that my father had died that day.  That cardinal symbolized, to me, the acknowledgment that I had never gotten from him.

I still wrestle with the fact, sometimes, that I will never get the explanation or apology that I felt I deserved from my father, and I have never heard from any of his family, but maybe, just maybe, that beautiful cardinal on the porch that day was the only sign that I ever really needed and I’m truly okay with that.

A Lesson In The Fall

Hues of orange and gold layer the floor beneath me,

Members of the multitude of pastel trees,

Floating ever so slowly down upon me,

Dancing freely in the scented breeze.

 

An everchanging kaleidoscope of color engulfs my eyes,

My face kissed by sun-warmed air,

A cloudless blue Heaven smiles upon me,

The fingers of Fall through my hair.

 

I stand, solitaire, inhaling nature’s gifts,

Absorbing a tranquility a lifetime sought,

Trickling water and the songs of birds fill the near distance,

The freedom that couldn’t be taught.

 

No longer am I a stranger to myself,

My tormented mind breathes anew,

Strengthened by my paradise,

For in it is where I grew.

 

Let’s Have a Parade

President Trump recently announced his wish to have a military parade and has commanded the Pentagon to begin planning it.  The President reportedly began pitching the idea of a military parade shortly after he was elected, after watching one at A Bastille Day celebration in Paris in July.  The last parade of this kind was held in the summer of 1991 to celebrate the end of the gulf war and is reported to have cost $12 million.

Although the President’s idea for such a tribute to our military may be well-respected since we all recognize his warm regard for the men and women who serve, it appears that it isn’t as warmly received by his political colleagues, both Democrat and Republican and, perhaps, with good reason.  Some question if this is President Trump’s latest thrust in the competition with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, You have a parade, I’ll have a parade, since the two leaders have been going head to head for some time now with regard to who is the most capable.  Others wonder what the cost for such a parade will be and where the funding will come from.  Will this, somehow, fall upon the nation’s taxpayers.  Many may argue that, with a near government shutdown and so many other priorities for our nation, why funding would be used for a showcase of our military weaponry.

Whether you are a Trump supporter or not, we are all left to question why this is necessary when there are so many other beneficial ways that funding for this endeavor can be used to support our military and its veterans.  The men and women who have sacrificed their lives and families deserve our respect and praise and certainly deserve much more than a parade.  We should always salute and thank them accordingly but, for President Trump and his idea to broadcast our military weapons down the streets of Washington, D.C. while further touting North Korea, this could be a dangerous game.

Love, Multiplied

While mindlessly channel surfing on TV the other night, I came across a new show called “Seeking Sister Wife”.  I had seen a preview for it, and I had also watched the show “Sister Wives” several times, so I settled onto the couch with a blanket to check it out.  The show highlights three families in search of a sister wife to join their households and I was immediately captivated.

Polygamy is not for me but I admit that the lifestyle has intrigued me since Warren Jeffs and the FLDS church made the news years ago, not because it is a lifestyle that I would choose for myself or that I even agree with but because the family dynamics interest me.  I find myself intrigued by the relationships between the wives in these families and the sacrifices that they appear to make for the lifestyle.  I understand why they’ve chosen it.  They believe that polygamy is what God has chosen for them and that the sacrifices are well worth the reward that they will receive in Heaven.  Their faith may, perhaps, encourage the lifestyle, but it doesn’t seem to be forced.  People do appear to be able to choose the type of marriage that they want.

I try to look at both sides of their lifestyle.  Part of me, like many women, wonder how one can share her husband with another woman, or women in this case.  How does she control the feelings of jealousy or envy if she feels that another wife is “favored”?  How does she so selflessly partake in the courtship and marriage to a new wife?  I suppose that this is part of the sacrifice.  Perhaps living in separate homes could make it easier, but abiding in the same home, all of the wives and children together, would appear to add to the already challenging way of life.  On the other hand, I realize that polygamy isn’t about a sexual desire but a religious desire.  These growing families are multiplied by what they believe God has chosen for them.  A good relationship can certainly have its benefits with another wife helping out with the house, children and finances.  A sister wife can step in with the household when another is too ill or busy to do so on a particular day.

I truly believe that there are families that certainly make this lifestyle of polygamy work and I definitely understand and respect it, but I’m still left to wonder about the rest, the families whose dynamic has been tarnished by jealousy or disfavor.  Some could argue that polygamy simply pits one woman against another, forcing them to make the sacrifices for a man who appears to have it all, an understandably unfair balance.  Perhaps we just don’t understand their clarity of the lifestyle.  Even so, we have been given no right to judge another for their choice of religion, spouse or lifestyle so I try only educate myself from these shows and, I have to admit, I look forward to keeping up with their lives on my Sunday evenings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sea of Anger

I wrote this long ago…

Sea of Anger

Salt-scented breezes caress my skin beneath a blanket of blue

As we glide across a rippling glass;

My reflection dances in the liquid mirror

As if to entertain my soul.

 

An ebony sky intrudes, replacing a fallen sun,

Fury will join in the night;

Roaring rumbles penetrate the silent air

In the electric darkness.

 

Swept up in a moistened and bitter wind,

Violent waves toss us forcefully about

As the depth swallows our bow,

It descends into ruffled black.

 

Under the flashing sky we leap, one by one,

Into an unknown world of erratic cold,

Blinded in the night, abandoned and forced to ride the ocean tide,

Monstrosity fights our search for blessed earth.

 

A fearful struggle of determination, softened by a song on my father’s tongue,

Prayers into the lightning stricken Heavens,

Wrestling with weary bones and trembling muscles,

And suddenly, we are spit out by the sea with a kiss of freedom.