This week is the one where my mom rented my cousin’s home in Barnegat on Long Beach Island. My family has been going to LBI since before I was born; my Nana, my mom’s mom, had a house in Shipbottom and we went there for a week or two every summer. The little place where we rented our rafts is now a big store, and the old Hand Store, that great landmark, is gone. When we asked my mom what she wanted to do to celebrate her 80th birthday (on September 28th), she decided she wanted to spend the week with us at LBI. Little did we know, she’d never see this week.
When we lost her, we decided to keep the week and do all the old favorite things, her favorite things, to honor her and remember her. I remembered that almost too late and let the problems with a few of my sisters keep me away. Then I remembered that this weekend had to do with Mom, not us. Overall, it was a great weekend; I just wish I could have been there for the week because I’m missing a lot of the things I wanted to do.
But here’s the things I did do.
I brought Elphie and Morgan with me; the dogs LOVE the beach! Casey stayed home to keep John company. As I left the house, I sent this picture to my sister Terry with the subject line: We’re on our way!
My cousin’s place is just a few houses from the beach:
Sunday morning, I got up early with everyone else — I know! I got up EARLY! On a weekend! — and we took a walk on the beach. Mom loved the beach, and before her health slowed her down, she’d spend the whole day there and could walk forever.
Elphie and Morgan led the way:
It was a beautiful morning:
We decided to walk to Barnegat Light, just laughing and talking, the dogs running alongside:
We had once wondered, if reincarnation is true, what would Mom come back as? We decided a seagull; Nana and Mom loved seagulls. When I saw this flock of gulls, I called out, “Are any of you our Nana? Or our Mom?”
The dogs suddenly stopped, lifted their heads, and then loped towards one seagull. We decided that one was Mom. Or at least, Mom’s gull. We joked that she was waiting for me to go get her a breakfast plate and take her camera to get pictures, as she had done as she slowed down.
Barnegat Light! Old Barney! Growing up, I knew this lighthouse as well as I knew my neighborhood! Mom loved lighthouses, and this was her favorite. As we walked around it, we talked about the times we’ve walked up to the top, the time my Nana slipped by the fountain and broke her hip, how happy we were when the renovated the lighthouse, the time we walked all the way out to the end of the jetty, and how great it would be to camp at the state park there.
We stopped at a little deli near the lighthouse and finished our walk. Cathi went to the supermarket and the rest of us started prepping other things for the dinner later on, like Terry’s fresh salsa with cilantro, lime, and nectarines. During all of it, we did what a shore trip and family dinner always included: playing games. We didn’t even fight! Especially since I was losing and so instead just set out to tease Cathi through the whole thing, including stealing some of her cards; she never did figure that out. Terry did and I bribed her with a dragon to keep silent.
When we had planned this dinner, we decided to make Mom’s favorite family dishes or dishes she hadn’t made in a long time, since we were kids. If she was alive for this trip, we had planned to take her out, but this was part of the memorial. We made her lasagna recipe, garlic bread, salad, appetizers, and homemade rice pudding for dessert. We played around until we got the rice pudding to taste like hers, and we also made a “cocktail” that Walker, my step-grandfather, had made. That also took some playing around until we got the right taste. It was basically a wine spritzer with a certain wine, soda, a twist of lime, and cherries.
They were making a mushroom lasagna for me, and kept teasing about how I had my own “little lasagna”, in its own small dish. This is the joking “little lasagna”:
And this is the real one:
My niece Dawn, her husband John, and their two girls arrived. We decided to do another beach trip before dinner. Abby and Katie wanted to walk the dogs; it meant A LOT to them:
They were also thrilled that Elphie helped dig a hole for their sandcastle:
Castle making is fun work!
It was a heck of a castle:
Morgan just hanging with the homies with a Fighting Christmas Trees hat:
Katie and Abby weren’t allowed near the water or to get “dirty”. I was very glad Gerry, their grandmother, was there, so Terry and I didn’t take flak over the sand they did get. (We brushed them off before we got back to the house.) My niece is very much a girly-girl and wants her daughters to be the same, so outfits aren’t allowed to be dirty. As opposed to her tomboy aunt who went playing in the ocean with Elphie and Morgan:
Running like a bunch of sandpipers!
Katie and Abby loved the convertible; they told me they were going to get one just like it when they grew up.
I took them for a ride, because if I hadn’t, Katie would have gone by herself. And that’s not really an exaggeration; she had the keys and was trying to start the Mustang. I’m certain Katie (along with my other great-niece Sadiye) will grow up to run this country, and we will flourish under their administration, or be dictator of an island nation, and we will fall under their might.
So off we went!
I wore a T-shirt that Mom had made for me. It was based on a family story of me at 1 and a half, flinging breadsticks and mashed potatoes around a restaurant. Mary found an editorial cartoon and article, added “Pass the Breadsticks’ above the little demon, and Mom had it made into the shirt with the caption: Dining with Kerry. She had it down at the Pier shops, pass the Lucy Evelyn shops in Beach Haven. It’s actually Trivoli Pier, but any “veteran” of LBI will tell you, it’s the Lucy Evelyn shops! The shirt’s about 22 years old; I’ve taken care of it because it meant a lot to my mom and me. My sisters were thrilled that I had it, that it still looked so good, and that I remembered to wear it:
I’m not going the couple of negative things that came up. We’re staying positive for Mom.
We looked at photos, and then, as we got tired and I packed to go home, we watched old movies and the first episodes of The Mickey Mouse Club. The day flew by and it was time to leave. I missed John, I wished he could have been there, and I wished we could have time to spend there together.
So let’s end this the way we started: with Morgan, ready for travel in the car. This time, she decided to drive: