For Sibling Assignment #104, Silver Valley Girl, InlandEmpireGirl and I will reflect upon our family's stay at Rockaway Beach and reflect upon what we enjoyed about being together as a family. SVG writes about flow, here and IEG loved the beach, here.
Last week, I wrote,here, about how spending time with my friends from the Kellogg High School class of 1972 was like going to the best church I could imagine. It was a reflection upon acceptance.
That gathering ended on Sunday afternoon, August 9. I puttered up Highway 101 that evening, got a room in Tillamook, spent much of Monday kicking around the vicinity of Cape Meares State Park and shopping at Safeway for the groceries for our family's four night stay at Rockaway Beach.
You might be thinking that after a weekend of casino gambling, superb food, ping pong, pool, poker, air guitar playing, dancing, recalling fun and funny memories with old friends, nearly non-stop laughter, music, good cheer, and love, that getting together with my family might be kind of a let down.
I mean, what could match the peak experience I had at Lincoln City with my oldest and dearest friends?
Being with my family at Rockaway Beach could, that's what.
Why? Well, it's back to what might matter most in life: acceptance.
For many years, I felt like, and I think I was, the family weird-o. While IEG settled into a teaching career right out of college and was doing great things in the classroom and SVG was in a solid marriage and started a family, I was all over the place.
Over about a fifteen year period, if you had an entry for me in your address book, my address changed about fifteen times. I was married, divorced; I couldn't keep steady relationships; I married again. It failed. I was in graduate school for what seemed like forty years and didn't finish my doctorate. For a while I was fired up about Central America; then it was the environment; I went to healing services at church; I drank too much; then I was sober for over ten years; for a while I couldn't talk enough about alcohol and then I couldn't shut up about twelve stepping. I became a vegetarian. In my academic life, my performance reeled from superb achievements to ultimate failure.
No wonder SVG once called me her vagabond brother.
But, I could always come home.
Even with my hair, as Dad would say, "down to my ass" and even when I was wearing purple every day and even with my inability to really nail down for anyone what the hell I was going to do with my life, I could always come home.
And my parents and sisters accepted me. Maybe, at times, they didn't enjoy me, but they accepted me, and I knew that.
During these unstable years, my family congregated at Yachats for a few days, nearly every summer.
We told stories. We went on outings. We tried out new stuff, like, for me, throw-up-deep-sea-fishing. We ate great food (unless, during my vegetarian years, I was in charge. Cream of celery soup, anyone?) We relaxed and watched the sea ebb and flow.
When we got together last week, all of this was on my mind -- but unlike those times twenty-nine, twenty-five, seventeen, twelve years ago, I didn't join my family with a troubled mind. I didn't fell like a weird-o. I didn't feel unstable, unsure of myself, off my rocker.
I felt at peace and more fully so because I was with my mother and sisters and brothers-in-law and nieces and my sisters' dogs and we enjoy each other.
I'm still, however, a little bit of a loner. Not entirely. But a bit.
During these four days together, I wanted time to myself.
And, really, here's what my family's love comes down to: no one questioned me about going off on my own drives, my own explorations, my own photography sessions.
No one asked, "What's the matter?"
No one accused me of not liking them.
No one tried to cajole me into doing what the others were doing.
My family accepted me. Wished me well. Made sure I remembered my cell phone. Were interested in what I did when I returned.
They teased me. They called me the "Happy Wanderer." We sang "Val-deri, Val-dera" together.
I didn't feel like a weird-o, just a regular family member who likes to drive alone sometimes and listen to the Grateful Dead on satellite radio.
This acceptance, laughter, enjoyment, eating, teasing, joking, helping each other out, being ourselves is, to me, God.
When I was with my classmates in Lincoln City, God was everywhere.
When I was with my family at Rockaway Beach, God was everywhere.
Here's a bunch of pictures. I took some of them. Others are my sisters' photographs. Click 'em for a larger image.
I hope they help illustrate what I mean when I say, when I am with my family, God is everywhere.
Here are the Woolums, looking down from the house balcony:
Mom enjoyed a few hours figuring out a handful of TV crosswords:
Sadie and Peaches enjoyed the beach and the ocean:
So did Annie and Shelby:
Kiki Aru, Z2, and Princess bought sweatshirts and modeled them:
PKR and SVG paused to pose for this portrait of happiness:
Mom isn't very mobile on the sand or around the rocks these days, so she got out a folding chair, put on the aviator shades, and observed the seascape:
IEG and JEJ and Shelby watch as Annie, way off in the distance, way out of this picture, frolicked in the Rockaway waves:
My favorite sibling picture:
Mom raises a toast to her family and our restful, mirthful, most enjoyable time together: