Vacation, Mortality and Awe.

Vacation was great. We did the Oregon coast for the second time as a family and what was great is how much the kids think they remember from the first time. I say “think” they remember because my son wasn’t quite three and my daughter had just turned one, so I’m not sure exactly how much they can really recall. If I had to guess, I think that now, five and almost seven, respectively they can see how much my wife and I remember from the last trip, how much we reminisce and how much we were cherishing the moment. They might not really remember that first trip, but I’m pretty sure they’ll have memories of this one.

All things considered, there really isn’t a lot to tell you about the coast. It is breathtakingly beautiful, but pictures and descriptions just do not do it justice. I think the main aspect that draws me to the coast is how massive it is. The scenery is so mobile, so striking. I have lived my life in the Midwest and I do find beauty here as well, but the Pacific Ocean, especially in the Northwest is simply overpowering. Everything seems to be crashing, colliding and rising above. Two instances really showed me the power of the ocean. First we went on a whale-watching trip; unfortunately, no whales. The seas were actually a little rough and that was the inspiring part (and nauseating part.) A few times as we were rushing from Devil’s Punch Bowl to North of Depoe Bay the waves appeared to be above where we were standing. I knew logically that we were in a trough and the wave was at its height, but it still reminded me that compared to the ocean, I am really small. The other episode was a bit more frightening. I dove into the ocean twice on this trip and that is enough. If you’ve never been to the northwest trust me the ocean is really cold. My brother-in-law and I both went under but the second time I stayed under a little longer than I planned. I tried to time my plunge between waves so there was enough water to actually go under. All went well until I tried to pop up; another wave came much faster than I thought and I was pinned down for a few seconds. I think what scared me the most was that I have never felt afraid in the water, never felt out of control. I was definitely out of control and I did not like it. After the wave let me go I jumped up and ran to the shore. I don’t think I was ever truly in danger, all the same I was glad to be by the fire and finished with the ocean for another trip.

I could tell you more about my favorite past time while by the ocean, gathering agates, sea shells and stones, but really I can’t bring myself to do it. It really is a lot of fun and not as boring as it looks on screen.

G'ma does the rock thing

Rock gathering unto the second generation

The last thing that I’ve been dwelling on since vacation has to do with death and remembrance. We spent a day visiting my mother-in-law’s parents and sister in a cemetery about 80 miles inland. The kids didn’t quite know the significance of the visit, but they did realize that it was important and we really quite wonderful. They helped grandma tend to the stones, place some flowers and give big hugs when all was said and done. What I realized from this is, I haven’t really thought about how I want to be remembered, or more accurately how do I think those that I leave behind want to remember me. While I get the, “they are in our hearts and thoughts, no matter where we go” idea it was obvious that Donna found comfort at the memorials. While I’m certain she remembers her parents and sister in a variety of ways throughout her daily comings and goings, for lack of a better description she was happy to be at the cemetery. I’m not sure where I want to be laid to rest, or better said scattered, but after this visit I think my kids and other family members might like a place to visit. As we entered a park shortly after coming home, legacy bricks were at the main entrance. Some were for local businesses, some from local churches and donors but some were memorials. I think that would be a good place to start, a brick at a place where we all have strong memories, where those that want to remember can go and feel connected, feel comfort, and feel something resembling joy, not in death of course but in a life shared.

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