The week was everything I hoped for and more, and I was exhausted. When you have twenty-one people spanning four generations together, it can be. Joy and drama packed in together.
The second day as Paul and I were finally heading to the beach, our youngest nephew greeted us at the bottom of the steps with: “Sorry to bring bad news but Andrew just got stung by a stingray and it’s really, really bad.”
So instead of going to the beach, I headed upstairs to the condominium where my almost-thirty-three-year-old son sat in a tub of hot, hot water while his wife Lacy explained how he was playing Frisbee in the shallow water with all the cousins and landed on the stingray. She’d never see Andrew is so much pain. Evidently getting stung by a sting ray is one of the most painful things you can experience. Our younger son Chris had gone through this a few years earlier on a family beach trip to Hilton Head.
On our fifth day at the beach, Andrew’s six-year-old son, Quinn, also got stung by a stingray, and I came home from a shopping trip with my granddaughter to find him sitting in the sink in our bathroom, the only place where the water got hot enough to extract the poison. Andrew and Lacy were with him, telling him how brave he was as he howled in agony.
And so the vacation had had its ups and downs.
It had been filled with one-year-old Lena’s giggles as she began launching out on her own.
The three older grandchildren had each ridden their bikes with Mamie (me) to Harbour Town, our beloved favorite spot in the world, to have a treat at the bakery and then buy a special something.
I’d also had wonderful conversations with my brothers and sisters-in-law as we sat on our porch overlooking a lagoon and watched an alligator swim by.
Paul and I had had special time with Andrew and Lacy (not only during the sting ray episode!) as well as with younger son Chris, (my eighty-seven-year-old father’s housemate for the past three years), engaged to Ashlee who was at the beach with us too.
There were several wonderful evenings where the cousins, as we called them, my father’s eight grandchildren, were laughing and playing games and being teenagers and young adults, and I and Paul and my brothers and sisters-in-law and my sweet father were laughing with our own sweet memories.
And so the week had gone on, me spending time with each of my loved ones, joyfully. It was chaotic, of course, but delightful.
But then I snapped a photo on the last morning and got back in the car and drove blithely home not knowing that my life, already a bit complicated, was about to change forever.
(Actually the above sentence came to me on my last morning walk as a potential first sentence for a new novel. But that’s another story=).
Long bike rides and long beach walks; lovely hours of babysitting all four grandkids so that Andrew and Lacy could have a morning beach date; time to sit on Daddy’s porch with him and drink tea.
Time to shop with the girls…time to celebrate Andrew’s 33rd birthday…
…time to enjoy delicious meals cooked at the condominium and shared at the beach club.
I even made a discovery at the Harbour Town bakery that ties in perfectly with the novel I am in the process of penning–part of which takes place on Hilton Head.
And so, dear Lord, our week at the beach held moments of rest and rejuvenation for me in between a whole lot of times of sweet connection with my family members.
My cup overflowed with Hilton Head Happiness. And today, I simply say, “Merci!”
ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and her blog.