The Sand Pail

Of course, many memories flood our heads and hearts of times on the beach as children. The warm water, warm sand and aroma of the ocean permeate your senses. I revisit these times in this story.

I watched as the small child, a little girl about three, bent down and proudly showed a red plastic shovel to her adoring parents.  They were all nestled safely under a pink umbrella, obviously enjoying this special time as a family. Tears formed in my eyes and my mind drifted back to similar events in my lifetime.

I can remember the many trips to Florida with my parents, my sister, and my brother when we visited my Gramma. We never stayed at her house. Instead, we stayed at the beach, where we created  many memories, building sand castles, digging holes that filled with foaming water as the tide came in and feeling the warm sand gather on our toes, still cold from winter up north.

Another memory from early in my marriage was spending a week on Waikiki with my husband, John, on R & R from Vietnam. I remember a Sunday afternoon, basking on our rented bamboo mats, taking the sun’s warm rays as we napped. Suddenly we were submerged by a huge wave that flooded our space and how we laughingly looked around only to admit our mistake in forgetting about the incoming tide.

My son also enjoyed many trips to Florida to visit his grandparents. A trip to Daytona Beach was never complete without a drive on the beach. Blaring horns and resounding radios invaded our auditory senses. I especially chuckle at the memory of him and his friend, with new driver’s licenses, driving down the beach to check out the wet T-shirt contest at the Hilton!

My granddaughter now has had many trips to different beaches. Of course, here at Daytona, we have spent hours racing back and forth, filling her tiny watering can and small pail.  We also shared a family trip to Hilton Head where she and I buried a small bird in the cool, morning sand, standing over it and saying a prayer. I still have a collection of shells from that day resting on my desk. Some even have sand clinging to their edges as they enjoy their home away from the beach.

As you can see, the beach, the sand, and the surf all have made an impression on me and my family. I always tell myself that nothing is larger, except God, when you stand at the ocean’s edge. Nothing makes us return to our thoughts faster than the knowledge that we, along with the sand, are gifts on this earth. Inhaling the aroma of wet sand, hearing the seagulls calling out at feeding time and witnessing the beauty of Dolphin fins on the horizon are all cherished memories.

I am hopeful that God wants us to continue enjoying the ocean — with its hopes and dreams — even in Heaven.  I plan to bring my pail and shovel!

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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