Thursday, September 24, 2009

Echoes of The Past

Ron and I are on vacation this week in Wells, Maine. Yesterday we met my sister and my mother at Rye Beach, NH. Rye Beach is where my family spent a week or two every year on our summer vacation. It’s a quiet, uncommercialized community that hasn’t changed much in the fifty years we’ve been going there. The beach is broad and deep, the sand clean and soft, and beautiful old homes line the shore.

Over the years, I would come to Rye with my parents, my two sisters, and my little brother. We would rent a cottage on Cable Road – but pretty much all daylight hours would be spent on the beach. We’d swim in the waves, dig in the sand, walk for miles, collect shells and beach stones, surf with boogie boards, catch crabs and starfish in our pails, and even eat breakfast and lunch on the beach. When we climbed, exhausted, into bed at night - we still had sand on our feet.

My Yiayia and Papou (my Greek grandparents) often spent time with us at Rye. Yiayia grew up on the Greek island of Rhodes, so had the ocean in her blood. My Aunt Katee would sometimes visit from New York City. Back in the 1960’s she was young, beautiful, and exotically interesting and eccentric. Father George Pappaiouannou (the priest who performed our marriage ceremony), and his wife and three girls also were frequent guests in Rye. I still remember Father George relaxing on the beach with us in his priest’s collar, black shorts, and black high top sneakers! Time at Rye was magical.

Rye is fondly ensconced in my memory; inseparably connected with family, fun, youth, love, and warmth. I still enjoy spending time there, but it has changed for me and become bittersweet with memories. My father died ten years ago. Yiayia and Papou have been gone for years. Katee passed away when she was about my age today, from cancer. We lost Father George the same year Dad died. My sisters and brother are spread around the country, and although we remain close, we don’t get to see each other often enough. Mom is thankfully still with us, but I understand how she sometimes feels lonely, with so many ghosts around. I see them sometimes at Rye – Dad gazing out to the ocean’s horizon…Yiayia laughing and lounging in the sun…Katee, glorious in her polka dot bikini with her long black hair blowing in the wind…Father George talking to his daughters in his gentle voice.

Grab all the moments you have with your loved ones, and make opportunities to create special memories. There will come a time when those memories are painfully precious.

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