Monday, December 12, 2011
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."
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.