illuminate history

Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)

Family Ties

Last week I spent time with the youngest member of my family, my almost-eight-year-old grandson, and the oldest, my eighty-six-year-old uncle .

O&L at El Morro

First, my daughter, her eight- and eleven-year-old sons,  my husband (her stepfather and the boys’ only grandfather) and I took a spring break cruise. We all had fun and we learned more about the changing dynamics our family unit.

I was widowed and re-married several years before the boys were born;  my daughter divorced last December. She and the boys live near their father’s family, which used to provide a framework for social and holiday events. Their world has changed;  my husband and I now have more gravitational pull, although we live on the other coast.

This was our first full week together and we learned more about patience. The boys loved swimming in the ship’s pool, especially when the ship rocked and made waves in the pool. There were only three ports of call: San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we hopped the free shuttle to the old fort; St. Thomas where we hopped the open taxi/bus to the beautiful beach at Magen’s Bay; and Half Moon Key in the Bahamas, where Grandpa and I took the boys swimming with stingrays.

There were eight rays in the pen. We swam with them and they slithered deftly between us. They felt like soft, silk-covered down pillows. I thought their skin might be abrasive, as I imagine shark-skin to be, but it was velvet-smooth. Their powerful, graceful “wings” feel spongy, not muscular. The water was cold; after half an hour our teeth chattered. But our group of twenty stood in a circle as the  rays took turns sucking squids from our carefully clenched fists–thumbs tucked firmly inside our fingers. The boys’ verdict? “Awesome!”

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Back in Ft. Lauderdale, they headed home to NJ. We had to wait until the following day to fly home to OR, so we rented a car and drove across the state to visit my mother’s “baby brother.” He was 16 when I was born. Now he’s the oldest relative on both sides of my immediate family. Of course, I’m next oldest, after him. He’s still fit and witty; we had a great visit with him and his companion of the past 27 years.

Heading west across Alligator Alley (Rt.75) around noon, we saw white smoke rising from a small fire in Big Cypress National Preserve.  Billowing clouds of black smoke hung over the highway when we returned around 6:30. The fire had reached the edge of the road. We made it through just before the Sheriff’s Dept. closed the highway.

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This entry was posted on April 4, 2013 by in Writing and tagged , , .
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