I dream of beach days

Dreaming of beach days- photo by Jade Moon

I can't recall how old I was when my parents first took me to the beach. The memories I have are like nuggets of gold-- the crunch of sand, hot and gritty between my toes; the caress of ocean waves warmed by the sun. Most of all, the strength of my father as he carried me on smooth, broad shoulders and walked into the sea-- deeper, deeper until he was almost fully submerged. He lowered me into the water even as I clung to him like an opihi, weightless and warm and loved. 
Later we sat on towels on the sand, the sun beating down on our heads, and devoured musubi-- salty rice balls wrapped in seaweed-- that my mother had prepared at home.
It was a good day. 

Most us Hawaii folks have a relationship with our beaches. They're a part of our lives whether we visit them regularly, often, or not often at all. They're there, that's what matters. Some of us take them for granted. The visitors who come each year to bask on golden sand and swim, dog paddle or surf in the warm perfection of the Pacific ocean would wonder at that.  

If you follow me on Facebook you'd know about my most recent contest. I asked for your best beach memories. My only requirements-- be true, be brief, be eloquent. Here are some of your memories:

Robin Anderson wrote about the magic of sharing the beach with our children: 

"The best day at a beach was also the first time my children saw the ocean. The look of wonder and joy in their eyes made me want to see it through their eyes. They just stood there looking at the soft waves hit the sand.
"Then suddenly they looked at each other and all three started to run for the water. They splashed and played until my youngest found a seashell. The hunt was on for more.
"My children are now grown with kids of their own. What great memories I have of them. My goal is to see that same wonder and joy in seeing the ocean for the first time in the grandbabies who live with me."

Children discover the magic- photo by Jade Moon

Mahalo, Robin, for reminding us of the magic we share with our kids. 

In fact, all of my favorites spoke of how deeply etched their beach memories are with the love of their families.
Ming-Toi Mollena-Riel recalled a precious night on a Molokai beach with beloved grandparents:

"My best beach day happened late at night in Halawa Valley on the beautiful Island of Molokai. The stars were twinkling brightly across the dark sky as the waves lapped gently across the shiny wet rocks.
"I was picking up opihi and night shells with my Grandma Bernice, while my Grandpa Mateo got the pot ready right there on the beach! When we came back with our bountiful blessings, it went straight into the boiling pot of water, tomato and onion. I remember looking at their beautiful faces glowing in front of the flames as we ate to our heart's content.
"Until this day, whenever I go to Halawa I think of that night which happened over 50 years ago. And, although my grandpa and grandma are no longer here, it still warms my heart and brings a tear and smile to my face when I think of them and that wonderful evening with such very special people whom I love so very, very much!!!"

Ming-Toi's story did, indeed, bring a tear to my eye and a smile to my face.

Ming-Toi's wedding day. Her Molokai grandparents are next to her beloved mother.

And more tears, as I read Julie Robley's bittersweet tribute to her mom:

Julie Robley and her mom

"Best day at the beach for me was shortly after we’d lost my mom. I’d driven around aimlessly all day, then ended up at Waikiki fronting Duke’s statue. I sat on the beach, blocking out everything and everyone around me, as the sun slowly set.
"For the first time in my life, I saw the infamous “green flash” at sunset and simultaneously smelled a very strong fragrance of pakalana, which were my favorite flowers. My heart became light as my mother and granny were the only two people to ever give me pakalana lei.
"I didn’t realize I had been crying until a sweet little girl of about 4 years old came up to me. She said she wanted to give me some flowers to make me smile, and gently gave me a plumeria lei that was a little worse for wear, and a sweet hug. It was then I felt as if I was visited by my mom and a little angel."

Here's to beaches and family and love. Here's to our Hawaii No Ka Oi. 
Mahalo, Robin, Ming-Toi and Julie for sharing your precious memories. 

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