I love being on the beach feeling the sand on my feet, the ocean breeze blowing threw my hair, and tasting the sea salt on my lips, this is bliss for me. When we traveled from Colorado to California the best part was watching the excited faces of our kids as they exclaimed “there it is!” pointing at the ocean like I might miss it if I didn’t look. That view of Pacific blue was worth the 12oo miles we drove across the country to get there.
I can’t count how many beaches we have visited up and down the pacific coast through the 27 years we have been married, but I do know that at every one of them we looked out for the perfect seashell to take home. But most of the time we found broken pieces of once beautiful specimens or the prolific mussel shells that everyone lost interest in after the age of four or five. We were looking for that diamond in the rough shell in perfect shape, glistening and waiting for us to discover.
Dennis had been in UCLA over spring break so our two teenagers had to make do with in home entertainment. That had not been the plan. The plan had been Disneyland and the beach but life intervened and plan’s change. Trauma takes precedence over all previous plans, my kids have learned that lesson time and time again. And they are not complainers, they don’t whine and quilt trip me with the “you said we would” and I am grateful for that. I am also very grateful that they are wonderful, caring, compassionate people.
Saint Patrick’s Day, Spring Break, and Easter had come and gone since Dennis had stepped innocently into the shower and his femur had broken into like a dried out branch, the cancer had replaced his bone. Now he had been home a couple of weeks, and we were transitioning once again into a new normal and the time had come to make another trip south for a doctor’s appointment at UCLA Santa Monica to remove all the railroad tracks of staples that lined his legs from hip to knees and his left ankle and foot. Since the appointment was on a Friday I decided to take our two teens, Joey and Katie with us for the ride and if their Dad was feeling up to it we would spend an hour at the beach and have lunch.
As we set in the waiting room Dennis was telling the kids once again about about the best hot dog place in the world, called Cupid’s Hot Dogs. He shared his memories of going there as a kid and how much fun it had been. He had actually tried to find Cupids several different times through the years but had no luck. Our daughter Katie, who I thought was listening to music on her IPod spoke up and said she had found a Cupids. I could see the surprise and spark light up Dennis’ eyes, really he asked her. Yep she had an address and so we made plans to drive there after his appointment.
Later that day, sitting in our car looking out at the ocean and eating hot dogs, and Dennis wearing his new Cupids t-shirt,this was another moment of bliss for me. When we were done eating we put Dad in his wheelchair and went out on the pier. As we went he asked the folks how the fishing was and chatted, smiling and enjoying the freedom of being out of hospitals and beds.Bliss. Before we left Katie and I walked down to the beach, once again hoping to find a special seashell and for the first time we did. We found three beautiful seashells and two perfect sand dollars Five beautiful gifts from the ocean. Ironic that we also have five children, three girls and two boys who are God’s gifts to us.
Through the years I have seen and experienced the grace of God through the hearts of others. Their actions and words have brought comfort and help to me and my family and I am forever grateful. I have tried to articulate those feelings in words and poems but I am not sure I have the adequate ability to do so, but here is another effort.
Gifts of Grace:
Soft prayers fall from a strangers lips,
Life giving strength they don’t realize the gift.
Tears fill eyes of Doctors and nurses, with tenderness
and care I watch their hearts at work.
My children growing up too fast, handle life
without complaint, with such grace.
Car breaks down after miles and miles
I don’t loose my cool,
Sitting stranded behind the high school,
A muttered prayer quickly answered
in the gift of a new friend who
helps get me going again.
Gifts of grace in the chaos of my life
I find them along the way as I go about my day.
Discovered in the ordinary,
Revealed through extraordinary.
Individual and unique,
Hidden along the beach,
Tucked away in the sand
Beautiful gifts of grace from the sea,
From the creators hand.