Monday, September 04, 2006

Goodbye Summer, Hello Life

The photo at the left was taken about 14 years ago, when my oldest daughter Kelly was just old enough to shuffle down to the waves, and take in the view of the massive ocean before her. She did it with a smile though, she has been in love with the water ever since. Its a family trait, I think; we all love the water.

Today was the last official day of summer. Technically, there are more summer days on the calendar, but for those of us with kids in school, we can pretty much say goodbye to the beach, the sun, and the surf. Today, as is our family tradition, summer ended at a beach side home with old and good friends. We hiked down the cliffs to the beach, sit on the sand, play in the waves, and enjoy each other's company. We smile at the way the kids have grown and changed, exchange stories of coping with near-teenagers and teenagers, and marvel at how time flies.

That same little girl who held my hand at the waves is older now, and chose not to make the trip to the beach with us, as she had more fun things to do with good friends elsewhere. Independent woman. Trying to be cool parents, and knowing that our daughter was with good people, we enjoyed the last day of summer in different places. Its evening now, on Labor Day, and we are all home together, sharing stories of our day. Seems our oldest, the one who used to hold my hand at the shore, crashed a Greek wedding reception with her friends, and had great fun. My, how times change.

Dad has gone upstairs to blog a bit, a habit the rest of the family kindly tolerates. Maybe someday in the distant future, my girls will read this and smile, remembering the end of Summer 2006.

The beach today was drenched with sunshine, and people - it felt like everyone in South Orange County was enjoying the last day of summer at the same place.

After we came up from the beach, we enjoyed a delicious meal of Mexican food, and again, the blessing of conversation with dear friends. During the past year, two of us have lost our mothers, and the pain and mystery of all this is still close. We sat together in the fading light of day and spoke of the loss, our feelings, and how our respective widow parents are fairing. This is a new season of life, gone are little children running everywhere, the need to change diapers and secure car seats. That has been replaced by larger kids who get together well on their own, and the need to hear from our friends on how we are caring for our aging parents.

We drove home tonight from San Clemente just as dusk enveloped the beach and twilight pressed through into night. The sky was a remarkable shade of peach, and red, and higher up aquamarine. As I navigated the Southern California freeway in the growing dark, I was struck by the beauty of this otherwise ordinary sunset, and the grace-filled nature of this otherwise ordinary day. Often, I feel confined by my senses. Confined from really understanding the Divine in each day, in each person I meet, and today, in knowing the measure of love and grace that brought me to this familiar beach with these very familiar friends.

Summer is over. Tomorrow we start, together, the 7th grade for Heather, Sophomore year at High School for Kelly, and the rest of life for Nancy and I. I love this journey.

All good things come from our Father. Thank you, Father, for this end of summer, and for the hope of tomorrow.

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