Swept away by the sea - Kitty Hawk pier

I was glad Nancy's memorial service was by the sea because the sea puts life in perspective.

Men and women live and die and the sea simply turns its rounded shoulders, shrugs them and sloughs off, pulling the sand beneath it. About 70 percent of the earth is ocean. As land dwellers we are clinging to the edge of a great watery abyss; we are as insignificant as the grains of sand on the beach.

And as we pass on there are many to take our place. I'd like to say I was moved during the memorial service and I was in places but I spent most of it trying to stop Jax Jax screaming out. BlackBerry therapy only worked to a point - and that was the point where he texted a particularly bad tempered councilman who I had last spoken to on acrimonious terms five years ago.

But beyond the pier house with its Pepsi signs that evoked jaunty times by the sea so many years ago, the great waves crashed on and on, oblivious. They pulled us to the ground where men once made flight.

Funny how our parents always took us to the sea when we were kids. Without fail they would head to the coast as if they had ran out of ideas and wanted to slip off the edge like pre Columbus sailors. And at the first sign of the water my father would strike up the familiar mantra: "I can see the sea through the trees."

And still we see the sea through the trees, although we have long ago departed our childhood selves who would get giddy with excitement at the silvery water and the smell of brine in our nostrils. I wonder if we all remember that time when suddenly we were on the beach with our parents and we didn't want to be there anymore. I recall looking around at the flat dull expanse of the sand and seeing the resort for what it really was, a crumbling piece of nostalgia that I didn't want a part of anymore.

My daughter can spend hours on a chilly beach while I chafe with impatience to leave. But one day she will no longer care about her bucket and spade and something will die inside me. Just like the days when I raced my dad and one day I won and saw him panting and suddenly I was sorry I had won.

Back at the house with the death of Nancy a tie had been broken, a cord that held a bundle of letters has snapped, sending correspondence scattering to the ground.

The order was gone and photograph albums lay haphazard on the floor, some of them spilling pictures - my wife as a kid, paddles and trees and inevitably the sea. And it seemed strange how I felt those childhood days would never end - like the trails I carved in the sand as the sun slipped low over the Cornish coast. Or the day when the fog lay low over the rock pool and I jumped on and on, across briny pools until I came across a huge red crab, magnificent and triumphant as the sun came slanting through the mist.

But to grow up was to lose the randomness of rock hopping and to forget the impetuousness of youth. Yet back at Nancy's house something had slipped; suddenly the children were taking over. There were screams and possies of them and menacing figures in the yard clutching huge plastic guns and whatever they could plunder from the house.

Like a revolution there were forces we could no longer control. It was time to move over or to be swept aside.


  1. 'Men and women live and die and the sea simply turns its rounded shoulders, shrugs them and sloughs off, pulling the sand beneath it.' - and this is why I love your blog. You have an incredible way with words.

  2. Makes me long to see the ocean again and to see those who left me long ago.

  3. Lovely piece of writing, David. Very evocative. The best view of the sea I know which never ceases to impress me is the one of the Cote d'Azur as seen from the autoroute from Antibes.

  4. Really beautiful writing David -in all its nostalgia, so very expressive.

    As they say, Enjoy life, for life is fleeting!

    I have my reasons for living by the sea. I even said I would want half my ashes when I die, scattered over the sea, the other half scattered up the steps of any church, and just inside the church-just to keep it a little holy. But I'm not sure if that will ever happen!

    Wishing you the very best of the holiday season!

  5. Beautifully expressed, sometimes nostalgia can be good thing before a tiny tot slams the breaks on your daydreaming. The sea is a beautiful devil, am glad to have lived in cities with beaches, some breathtaking and inspiring by their raw beauty, some not even clean enough to wade into.

  6. Sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing all this with us. Personally, I've never realised how much not liking the sea when I was 13 had to do with me growing up and having a boyfriend for the first time. Now, I really wish I could live close to the sea. Maybe we all eventually go back to childhood a little bit.

  7. Beautifully written, poetic and seamlessly woven.

  8. Thanks so much Lydia - hope yu are doing well. I know dbs - do head for the ocean. 4rea Sarah - I so have to get back to France.

  9. Nice idea Jacqueline - that's what we plan to do with my father in law. Have a great Christmas. I know Rek - have heard the beaches off Mumbai leave something to be desired. Thnx Starla - I think we are all nostaglic for the sea. Thanks Kitty and for visiting here

  10. I loved the image of the sea shrugging its shoulders. I also felt like I was running and jumping along with you when you came upon the red crab. Very well written piece, David.

    I love the ocean, but have had only a small handful of chances to experience it. I can't imagine ever growing tired of being there, but perhaps I would if I lived closer to it.

    This is a difficult time of year to lose a loved one. My sympathies to you and your wife and family.


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