Day 21: Going to the beach makes me happy. Happiest. I’m giddy just thinking about our third annual “mother-daughter” beach trip in May. I book an oceanfront room with balcony at a dated, faded motel on the boardwalk. We go a few weeks before beach season officially starts so it’s quieter and mild.

We bring groceries as our “suite” has a small kitchen with dining table and chairs, a TV with basic cable (for Mom), sofa, and coffee table. Anywhere we sit we can see and hear the ocean. I rise early and take my coffee out on the balcony to watch the scene above. A few retired couples saunter by on the well kept boardwalk with their coffees, too.

They remind me of my grandparents, who traveled with friends, too, or met them each morning for breakfast and Sanka. It smelled so good, Grandpa dropping saccharin tablets in his cup. A saccharin bottle sat on their kitchen table waiting for him and his special mug. Dad drinks from it now. “Hey, that’s Grandpa’s mug,” I said one morning years ago. It surprised him that I remembered such a small thing, though it shouldn’t.

No, I’m not turning maudlin. I enjoy recalling that moment of recognition. No matter how he tries, knowingly or not, poor Dad can’t dim my memories of our family. Or him. Funny, because Mom retells stories so that they’re tattooed in my mind. And I sit back and listen, her voice and steady crashing curls whirling together into a peaceful mantra.

I find it difficult to be sad on our balcony, nursing my coffee, watching the sun spread her rays in a good morning stretch, squawking seagulls and earnest sandpipers riding waves above me. We’ll be there before we know it.

Lack of communication is unhealthy.

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