Which are all related, of course.
The days are going by so quickly. We get up, we take our walks or not, we eat a little something, we put on sunscreen and bathing suits and collect towels and water and books and head down to the beach and set up the umbrellas and settle our chairs in the shade and before you know it it's lunch time and then nap time and then more beach time and then beer and then supper time and then bed time.
They boys love the beach. They cling to Mama or Jessie or May or Matt in the water and Gibson sucks on his mother's shoulder. We think he likes the salt. I build castles with Owen and he smashes them. "I a dragon!" he says. He's a dragon, a lion, a frog. Last night before bed he entertained us for an hour with various dances, twirling and falling on the floor in dizziness. This morning he cried for May and Matt when they went down the beach without him for a at least fifteen minutes. "I miss them!" He cried. "I want to see them!"
I had pancakes made when he woke up and I sat him at the counter and said, "Let me take your picture for Boppy," and he did.
I miss Boppy. He has been at home, finishing the deck, getting the garden ready to plant. Hunting is truly about to begin and he wants to be able to go, feeling that he has done what he wanted to accomplish in the way of household tasks. I told him last night on the phone that it is odd to be the matriarch without the patriarch. He said, "You can handle it," and I can, but it is odd. It is odd to feel like the matriarch but there is no denying it with children and grandchildren around and yet, I don't feel especially matriarchal. I think of going to the beach as a little girl with my own grandparents and mother and brother and my mother's brothers and their wives and children and am I that old lady in the blue and white dress, walking down the beach?
Not quite, but yes.
Again, it is easy to think of these things by the beach. The presence of grandchildren underline the fact that all of this will be here when I am gone and it is as right and natural as the waves and the wind and the sun's path across the sky every day, the stars' coming out, the moon's rising.
It felt good this morning to make the pancakes- a task, a small yet real task I can do to feed these people I am somehow responsible for. Whom I love so much and who love me more than I can even acknowledge. We pass the baby around, we play with Owen, we wash dishes and put sunscreen on babies and it's all a dance of generations and of purpose and of delight and of love and of courtesy and caring.
Last night on the way to get pizza, Lily and Jessie and I were in the van with the boys and Owen said, "Dammit." And then he said, "God dammit," and we were struck dumb for a moment but then he repeated the phrase over and over but in this strange little old man voice, deep in his chest and we couldn't help it. We tried so hard to say, "No, Owen, you're not allowed to say that. That is NOT NICE," but we couldn't help it. We laughed. We laughed and laughed and so of course he kept saying it and Lily said, "What am I supposed to do?" and I had no idea. "None of you children ever said anything like that," I said, but of course I was lying and my girls knew it. But I don't know what I did or said to make them stop when they were children and said naughty words but probably the same things we did last night- I probably laughed and said, "No, that is NOT NICE!" and then I said to Owen, "You are making god unhappy when you say that," which cracked up Lily and Jessie even more and I had to admit to Owen that no, that was not really true, and we all laughed some more until we got to the beach bar where we all piled out and May and Matt and Jason pulled up too and we all went and had some form of tequila except for Owen who got a fancy Sprite drink with cherries and Gibson who napped in his little seat and Owen played on the beach while we grownups drank our drinks and laughed and talked and then we all went and got pizza which we ate like beasts and here we are this morning, our pancakes eaten now too, the kids all down at the beach, me about to join them.
I am not quite as white-headed as my little granny was and I don't wear a blue and white dress on the beach but yes, I am the matriarch and someday I hope that Owen remembers this little time at the beach and the pancakes and the pizza and the way he made us laugh with his dizzy falling-down, with his butt-swinging, crazy-legs dances, yes, even with his growly-old-man god dammits.
I feel full and filled-up and overfilled and my eyes keep leaking out what the heart cannot hold and the beach, the beach is big enough to hold it all.