The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far

Last week, one of my dear friends (and now FORMER roommates) moved from our cozy, familiar home in Arlington, VA to take on seminary in Orlando, FL. (Floridians! If you see a gal chasing her dreams somewhere near Red Bug Lake Road, give her a hug for me!) Another friend and I road-tripped down with her to check out her new digs and get a little R&R of our own. Conveniently, my family has a little beach house located on the South Carolina coast so we split the trip over two days and docked there after our first day of travel.

My brother and I have grown up at this house. My parents honeymooned in this very house never thinking they’d stray far from their Illinois roots to visit again. Life sure is unpredictable and wouldn’t you know within a year of getting married, they found themselves living just 5 hours north of this historic little house of ours.

It’s an unlikely story how it came to be ours. My parents bought the house from friends that are much more like family to us. Teach and Mrs. Teach (Teach, short for Teacher) were great mentors to my parents while my parents were in college. Teach called my mom Stud (short for Student) and they were fast buddies. As a wedding gift, Teach and Mrs. Teach gave my parents a week at this humble little home they’d bought. Years later, the house became ours.

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Growing up in North Carolina, we traveled down as much as we could. It became our oasis and safe spot where the world couldn’t touch us. One of my favorite trips down happened on an unsuspecting 3-day weekend. We’d cleaned up the house one Sunday morning. We packed all of our belongings and piled into the car. One of us lamented leaving. There was a heavy sigh of agreement from another. We paused and then my Dad asked aloud, “Maybe we just leave tomorrow then?” We all perked up! We looked at Mom who was the only one that needed to be back for work the next day. “You guys want to?” With a holler from the backseat, my Dad peeled into a quick U-turn and that was that. One more night in paradise.

Even just a night there with the gals sounded dreamy. The last time I was at the house was early last August, the last time my mom, dad, brother and I were all together. My mom loved it down there.

Early Thursday morning I woke up and threw my running gear on. If I lived by a beach, I’d be a much more frequent runner. I slipped out of the house and jogged to the beach. It was low tide but even with an expansive beach I ran right next to the waves. I trotted along and spotted a dolphin. Then I stopped. I looked around. It was a PERFECT beach day. The weather was ideal, especially considering it was late June. The water was peaceful as it steadily waved in and out.

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I started thinking about my friends, likely still in bed. They were SERIOUSLY missing out. I wrestled with going back and dragging them on the beach with me but thought maybe sleep was more valuable to them. No trouble! I kept jogging along but was more and more convinced that if I WERE THEM I’d rather be on the beach than in bed.

I decided to take a few pictures (the pictures you see included in this post!) and sent them to the gals. Maybe they are awake now? My message was something like, Good morning! No pressure but the beach is great if you want to join! Feel free to come meet me out here.

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I kept running. It was picturesque out there. Sometimes you wake up to rain or horrible wind or clouds when you are at the beach. But not that day. HOW COULD THEY BE MISSING THIS. I thought, I bet if they knew it was this great out here, they’d want to be here too. I’m sure of it. Actually, I should run home right now and get them. I should probably sprint. 

Off I went!

I turned around and as I got closer to home I sent another beach picture with a text that went something like this: I‘m coming to get you! Be there in 3!

I ran and ran and ran. I got home a sweaty, sandy mess. Luckily, they were up and at ’em.

“We’ve got to get outside! It’s beautiful! And so sunny! But not too sunny! And the sky is blue and we just couldn’t ask for a better beach day. C’mon! Out the door! The WHOLE  beach is waiting for us.”

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They just looked at me and smiled. (Thankfully, they have lived with me for a while now so this was not totally unexpected but it was juuust 7:30 AM so even a saint would have looked at me like I was off my rocker…)

I immediately started to laugh.

I wiped my sweaty forehead and looked at the ground. Chuckling, I said “Oh, I’m so sorry.”

I had just Mary-Browned them. I didn’t initially realize it but that’s exactly what I did. I felt the urgent need to apologize. I’d been in their very shoes, in that very house, hundreds of times.

Without fail at the beach, my mom would wake up early and go running before we woke up. She’d return from her run, maybe even put her hot, sweaty hands on our faces to wake us up to tell us THE DAY IS GETTING AWAY! THE BEACH IS WAITING FOR YOU! She’d whisper to me that she even saw a dolphin or two, knowing that’s all she’d have to say to get me jumping out of bed.

I apologized, explaining that my mom had woken me up from some of my most peaceful sleep in the name of a PERFECT beach day. Thankfully, the beach delivered as promised. I think we are all glad we made it out there.

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What I would give for those my mom’s unwelcome wake-up calls, sweaty hands and all to shake me awake. It’s easier to say now as I’m missing my mom but man, I’m so glad she burst into the house all the days she did. She taught me that life was to be lived fully! There are things to see! People to meet! Friendships to create! Dreams to tackle!

My sadness sometimes tells me to say in bed.

Beach days remind me that’s definitely not where I’m meant to be.

Friends, even when the storm clouds roll in or windy days keep us inside, I’m so sure that we’ve got beach days ahead of us.

Mom and Em Smooch at Seabrook

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14 Replies to “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far”

  1. This was a perfect way to end my day. I just got back from watching the sunset at our favorite spot on Seabrook and now I’m sitting on the couch in your beach house reading your post. I’ve thought about your mom a lot this week and my memories have made me smile and sometimes laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing your sweet memories. Love you!

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  2. Emily darling, To say was my first beach day in many years. Am at Topsail with Kitty and her large family celebrating my birthday. The water was warm, tide coming in, an on shore breeze, blue sky  and hot sand. Watched children of all ages playing between the sand bar and the beach. Brought back a vivid memory of Vickie as a toddler in her ruffled pink bathing suit standing  with her feet in the ocean edge hollering “Stop it?” at the waves.Also saw a young mother standing on the shallows watching her small sons and husband frolic. She was very white, very thin and very bald. I wondered what she was facing and what she was thinking as she watched her young family. I’m still worried about her. That bald head wore no hat and was as red as a strawberry. For once in my life I said nothing when perhaps I should have.So you and I are sharing tales of beach days and remembering loved ones who once walked the sands with us. Weren’t we so blessedly lucky for that?Love and hugs, Jay

    Sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone

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  3. Emily thanks for the reminder of beach days ahead and also of the beautiful retreat that Seabrook is. Your parents let us use it for our honeymoon in 2010 and then we visited them in Durham. I love your posts and all the great pics of your mom. Xoxo Mary

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  4. I loved it when we went to that house the summer I stayed with you guys and I loved being Mary-Browned (even if it was painful getting out of bed). I pretty sure the reason why I started running was because of a few mornings when I got Mary-Browned. All these years later I am still running. What a wonderful lifelong gift your Mom gave me. I am happy to see the traditions your Mom left for us live on. Love you Em!

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