The Ghosts That Haunt Me

I wrote this one this past summer and never got around to posting it. Looking at it again on New Year’s Eve, the reflections seemed appropriate to start the new year.

These are the ghosts that haunt me as I stare at the sea and listen to the waves crashing on the shore.

My paternal grandparents introduced me to this beach, though I have no memory of them here. There were no visits between 1957 and 1968, for various reasons, by which time both my grandparents were dead.

No memories of those early times, but black and white photographs. I feel their presence as I sit in exactly the same spot the photos were taken more than 65 years ago. 

Theologically I have no belief in ghosts. What I do have in this place is memories, so many memories, of people no longer with us. Some are vivid, others hazy, but all are part of this vacation experience.

There is Derek. We were beach friends, we would only see each other once a year. Derek and I weren’t close, but I appreciated his company each summer. Even more, I appreciate his legacy – he taught Hearts to my children, giving us hours of family pleasure and leading us to other card games. Derek died at a young age – I think as we both aged we might have grown closer, but we never got the chance.

I remember Bob. Not surprising – we were best friends in our childhood into our teen years. Our mothers were close friends as teenagers. His family vacationed here too. Bob and I would walk to play miniature golf in the evenings after a long day on the beach. The mini-golf course was a couple of towns over, through the woods and over the railway tracks. I remember it took us about half an hour to walk. My children in their teens refused to consider making the same trek. Google maps says you can’t get there that quickly.

Bob’s parents, like mine are long gone. I think his father’s funeral, more than a decade ago, was the last time we talked – and that was the first time since the early 1980s. We’re Facebook friends, but he hasn’t posted in the past three years. 

It is funny how friendships fade as you age. I am sure if we were to run into each other it would be as if we saw each other only yesterday, not decades.

Then there are those of my parent’s generation. Dick and Hazel, my friend Ron’s parents. Frances (and her sister Dorothy) who took a taxi here each year from Montreal. My maternal aunt and uncle who came here at the same time as my family – but only once their kids were older. I don’t remember my cousins ever being here.

Others from that generation are becoming fading memories – the realtor we rented out cottage from, the retired doctor who spent his summers in Maine and his winters in Florida. I never knew them well, but they were part of the experience.

My sister and brother haunt this beach too – though they are very much in the land of the living.  Time,  distance and competing priorities mean they have not been here in a long time. But I see them, and my mother and father every time I walk u the beach from being down in the waves.

This is a family place. My grandson is the fifth generation of our family to vacation here. There is no way of telling how many more are yet to discover it.


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