Still love getting toes in water

Published 1:44 am Saturday, September 29, 2012

Some things just never change. From the first time my parents took me to that magical place where waves of the Gulf of Mexico tumbled on to brilliant white sand and tickled my toes, I have loved the beach. I must have been around three or four when my parents moved to Panama City, Fla., from my Bibb County, Ala., birthplace. Nothing made me happier than a trip to the beach. Few things in those days made me unhappier than to leave the beach, no matter how long we had stayed.

It wasn’t surprising that I jumped right to the task when my granddaughter asked me to arrange a beach outing for “us girls,” meaning herself, her mother and me. I had felt the pull to the water and the salt air all summer. My longing for the sand and surf probably matched hers and her mother’s. While they love to bake in the sun all day, I enjoy sitting in the shade on a porch or patio in view of the sparkling water, allowing salt breezes to caress me. These days I confine my time on the beach to early morning walks and near sunset strolls. That way, I avoid the scorching sun’s rays beaming in on skin peppered with moles and age spots.

After confirming a date we three agreed upon, I did an Internet search without success. Then I thought of a friend who might have a contact. She did, a great one. A few e-mails passed back and forth. A few days later, I mailed a check for our dream accommodations. “I can’t wait, Grandmother,” my granddaughter telephoned from Lexington, Ky. For me, the old excitement crept in, too. As my daughter and I finished our final packing, I remembered how jittery with excitement I always was on the eve of a trip to the beach in my growing-up years. My parents had moved back to Alabama shortly before the outbreak of World War II. We returned to Panama City every summer. Sometimes we stayed with relatives, other times we rented a beach cottage.

I had always heard, “Once you get sand in your shoes, you have to return.” I saw to it that my husband got sand in his shoes. Whether that was the case or my persistence, for as long as possible, we kept returning. What a joy it was to watch our children play in the snowy white sand and splash in the water on their first and subsequent visits to the gulf through the years.

“Us girls” had a dream three days and four nights stay in a luxury 14th story condo. My girls enjoyed their sunbathing. I lounged on the patio or in the living room in view of the water. I made my morning and late afternoon beach excursions, occasionally dipping my toes in the water as it washed in.

And yes, I hated when our stay ended. As I said, some things just never change.