While some senior citizens lament the aging process, I have embraced it. With less time before me than behind, I approach each day with a heightened sense of urgency, keenly aware that there is much Kingdom work to be done before the page turns on this chapter of my life. I also approach each day with a heightened sense of expectation, never knowing when a memory will trigger a jaunt into yesteryear. At seventy-three, I am relishing the future while savoring the past and excited about all of it – praise God!
Last week while sitting on the beach at Edisto Island with one of my grandchildren, I remembered this picture taken of me on Sullivan’s Island when I was two; and I was struck by how much the meaning of the phrase “going to the beach” has changed over the years. When I was a child, “going to the beach” was all and only about swimming - hanging out for hours under a multicolored tent was never a consideration and no one we knew owned a cooler. Our (my two sisters and I) assortment of beach toys consisted of several wooden kitchen spoons and the pail my grandfather used to wash his car on Saturdays – death was certain should one of these items be lost! If sunscreen had been invented, we didn’t know about it; or if we did, it wasn’t thought necessary because we weren’t going to be on the beach that long! I vaguely remember a red-topped thermos of water being available to sip from during the first time out of the surf; we could drink more the second time out because that initiated the trip home.
By today’s standards, one might conclude that mine was a Spartan childhood – it wasn’t. In the years immediately following World War II, adults were busy; and there was neither time nor money for frivolity. In our neighborhood, “going to the beach” was a rare summertime treat, reserved to reward children for behavior above and beyond the call of duty; adults received only the joy of listening to their little ones laugh and watching them play in the ocean as they stood on the sand in their work clothes.
“Going to the beach” . . . the phrase evokes different responses from each of us; and while it will no doubt mean something entirely different to my grandchildren’s grandchildren, I pray their memories will be just as vivid and positive.