Love Never Ends

Love Never Ends

SimoneLipscomb (1)The sun slowly set across the bay. From my perch on the end of the hurricane-damaged pier I sat alone—utterly alone— yet surrounded by endless memories. As I closed my eyes and listened, I could almost hear the laughter of my brother and cousins when we were children. I could hear our mom’s calling out, “Don’t run! Don’t run on the pier!”

A mullet splashed and brought me back to the present. My thoughts turned to my grandfather. If only he could be in the swing sitting with me on the pier telling stories of hauling watermelons to New Orleans. Or maybe he would tell the story of getting married to my grandmother, of having seven dollars and the Pensacola judge asking ten dollars to perform their marriage. It left them no money for lunch. He perhaps would remind me they did not tell anyone they were married for two weeks and they only knew they loved each other. That was all that mattered.

Granddad with the great-grand kids
Granddad with the great-grand kids

As I sat on the pier and watched the sunset, I thought back to days when our entire family was together—Dad and Mom, Mammaw and Granddad, Babe and Preston, Patti, Paula, Mike, Johnny, my brother and me, Aunt Bert, Aunt Carrie, Aunt Teet–all of us together enjoying fish fries, water skiing, sailing, crabbing, fishing, swimming, and nights spent on the pier staring up into star-filled heavens. Summer days were filled with the essence of family, fun, seafood, salt water, sunshine, and the ingredient that made it all magic—love.

Granddad and my daughter Emily...1986
Granddad and my daughter Emily…1986

It was not that it had all been easy. There had been difficulties, heartaches, mistakes, deaths and sadness, but that is only part of being human. It is part of life. The thread that had kept us all together was love—love anchored by Granddad and Mammaw for sixty-three years and then by Granddad for the past several years. In my reverie on the pier, I realized that with his passing our anchor would be gone. Each family, now including great grand children, some of whom were adults, would drift farther away from the nucleus that Granddad had anchored. Our lives would change. The thread would unravel a little more.

I remembered how things changed when Mammaw passed on years earlier. We began using disposable plates at Thanksgiving and Christmas instead of her favorite china. Granddad missed her greatly but went on the best he could, honoring and loving her with a deep, true love. Granddad made an effort to step in and do things with my brother and me when our dad was unable. We rode horses together, sometimes with my brother Lance following along on his bicycle. I never realized until recently how he helped father us when our own father was sick.

Granddad and me in a Foley Christmas parade...circa 1975 or so
Granddad and me in a Foley Christmas parade…circa 1975 or so

Why is it that only when we face losing someone we love do we realize just how deep love’s grooves are worn into our hearts?

An empty bottle floated past the pier. It bobbed slowly past as the current carried it out to sea. Our lives are so much like that bottle—floating along on the currents of time, steered by an unseen force from the day we are born until we die. Is it chance that steers the current of our lives together or is it some greater force that brings us into each other’s presence? Maybe it is a little of both, but regardless, it is love that keeps us close, that brings us to a place of understanding and tolerance, of patience and peace.

SimoneLipscomb (7)I turned and looked back over my shoulder, up the pier to the moss-draped live oak trees and the large white house that my grandparents called home for so many years. I swear I could see Granddad walking down to the pier in his khaki work pants and shirt wearing his boots and straw hat to sit with me and tell me once more about…..memories flooded my mind and my heart listened wide open, as my grandfather shared his life story just one more time.

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I wrote this after visiting my grandfather on the way back to North Carolina…just after his surgery and before Hurricane Katrina. A few days later I shared it at his funeral and later still, it ended up in a chapter of my first book, Sharks On My Fin Tips(Published by Grateful Steps Publishing House, 2008).

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