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A coming of Age Story from The Camerons of Tide's Way, available for free on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

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Blogging By the Sea
Monday, May 27 2013

The local paper today had a photo of a Cub Scout placing flags at the local National Cemetery. My daughter texted to say they’d just driven by the National Cemetery on Long Island and seen all the flags by each marker there, mentioning how impressive it was. I’ve seen Arlington National with thousands of flags fluttering boldly next to thousands of small white markers marching into the distance. It occurred to me to ponder on the enormous number of flags placed by faithful hands all over the United States. A mind boggling number. Then, of course, was the sobering reality that each of those flags represents a young man or woman who sacrificed everything they had to preserve this country and all it stands for. From that chilly day in April, 1775 in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts to this, through two world wars, Vietnam and Korea and now the Middle East, on land, at sea, and in the air.

When I was seventeen, I was a majorette and marched with the high school band. One of the most memorable of those times was one unusually hot Memorial Day – Hot at least, by New England standards. It was so hot that several members of the band fainted during the two-mile march from the town center to the cemetery and had to be carried off to recover. Once we got to the cemetery, we sat in a small patch of shade while the various dignitaries droned on. I have to confess, I don’t recall a single word any of them said. I was more intent on the welcome sight of my father hoofing it over the hill with a jug of ice water my mother had insisted he bring to us. The idea of gallant young soldiers, slain in the prime of their lives for a cause far larger than themselves seemed poignant, yet removed from me and my life.

My viewpoint today is far different. I’ve spent my share of three-day-weekends playing at the beach and enjoying parades and cookouts, but I’ve also come to a place in my life, where I take the time to reflect on what Memorial Day is really all about. Instead of watching a parade with the simple enjoyment of hearing the bands play and watching the uniformed representatives of the various military branches march past, I see the ghosts of those who never made it home to march in a parade. I’ve always flown my flag, but now, when I run it to the top of the pole and then lower it to half mast, I am remembering in my heart all those who have given all they had to preserve my freedom to fly it at all.

God bless each and every one of you and thank you for all you have given for me.

Posted by: Skye AT 12:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, May 20 2013

This is really about sisters and brothers and the place they hold in our hearts and our lives.

We get to choose our friends and the man or woman we marry and have children with, but our sisters and brothers we acquire on the luck of the draw by birth. We grow up squabbling over turf and parental approval, teasing and being teased. One day rivals, the next day allies. Most of us can remember times when our siblings were the only friends we had, hanging together on vacations or weathering a stormy day in the shelter of a fort built with chairs and blankets.

But then we grow up. We go off to college, or into the workforce. We move away, or join the military and move all the time. Our interests pull us even further apart and we get busy raising our own children. Too often, we forget to take time to keep the relationships of our childhoods alive and vibrant and healthy. But this past week, I was reminded how truly precious and beautiful time spent with our brothers and sisters all grown up can be.

When I first moved to my little island, there was a lovely woman who invited me to join her for various little impromptu get-togethers. Sadly, she passed away last year and in the days and weeks that followed, I got to meet most of her children who came to deal with all the stuff that a death in the family brings. They had a gathering to honor their mom, of course, and I saw them often while we chatted over my fence about the mundane and the unusual in settling the estate. Eventually the decision was made to sell their mom’s house, and as each of them left for the last time (or so I thought) we said goodbye and wished each other well.   

But last week, they all showed up (or most of them anyway.) They were staying at a neighbor’s place and had rented another small cottage to make room for them all. I was invited to a casual party when they first arrived, but the thing that made me smile the most and remember again, just how wonderful good sibling relationships can be, was their habit of walking down each night to say goodnight to the ocean. Usually with a glass of wine in hand, and generally long enough after the sun had set for darkness to have fallen, I’d hear the cheerful chatter of the small group as they passed by my house. They always gathered at the seawall, a close little cluster of shadows against the backdrop of the nighttime ocean, and the murmur of comfortable conversation drifted softly in the warm evening air, punctuated by chuckles and laughter.

They were lucky to have a perfect week weather-wise, but even luckier, I think, to have that week together. They make time for each other, and that makes their lives so much richer. Now they’ve returned to their scattered homes and no happy little group passed by last night, so I walked down the seawall by myself and said goodnight to the ocean for them. And while I was there, I whispered goodnight to my own brother and sister. And  thanked God that my grown-up children still make time to be together, and know the joy of a companionship that will last for a lifetime.

   

Posted by: Skye AT 03:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, May 08 2013

An Op-ed piece in yesterday’s paper suggested that it was only the wealthy and congressmen eager to be out of Washington who were benefited by the exception to the sequester voted in and signed by Obama to end the Air Traffic Controller furloughs. But I beg to differ. It was my misfortune to have a ticket to fly from Jacksonville Florida to JFK in New York three days after the furloughs began. I knew there were delays expected and checked my flight before I left home but at that moment, it was still ON TIME. Two hours later, as I got off the shuttle from extended parking, it was half an hour delay. At first this seemed like it might be good, because I’d never seen security lines as long at JAX before. It took me nearly 45 minutes to clear security, get my shoes back on, my water bottle filled and get to my gate. By then the expected departure time had been extended an additional hour. I settled in to read, thankful that I had only myself to worry about.

The woman on one side of me had an active one-year-old, who was eager to explore which meant his mom had to schlepp all her gear and his to keep up with him during our extended wait. On the other side of me was an obviously ill young woman in a wheel chair. She was already tired. Two sailors headed home after a long deployment waited patiently though I’m sure they were eager to see their families as soon as possible. Businessmen glanced anxiously at their watches, probably concerned about being late for meetings. There were older couples, other families with young children. None of us looked like the well-to-do who were supposed to be most affected by the actions of congress to exempt air traffic controllers.

After several more delays the flight was eventually cancelled more than three hours after it should have taken off. A single clerk at the counter began the thankless task of rebooking a long line of angry, frustrated, tired travelers who now had to find somewhere to spend the night before returning to the airport on the following day, where they would have to face the gauntlet of checking bags and security clearance yet again. I was fortunate that I have a dear friend with a guest room who lives just minutes from the airport. In spite of the upheaval of packing for a long cross country trip, she welcomed me into her home and fed me breakfast before sending me off again. But I wondered about that woman with the little boy – they both arrived back at the airport in the same clothes they’d worn the day before. And what about the ill young woman who was probably aching for a chance to rest in peace and privacy? Or the sailors who had to wait yet another day to get home? There had to be at least some businessmen who missed meetings. And everyone had to find some place to stay if they didn’t happen to live in Jacksonville.

The following morning my flight was delayed again, but did finally get off the ground. For me this created yet more travel issues to deal with. Originally my daughter was to pick me up when my flight landed in the early evening, but now I’d arrive in the middle of her workday. She works in Manhattan so picking me up was out of the question. She offered to send a car, but the Scots in me balked at this expense and I opted for the Airtrain which stops at all JFK terminals and connects with the Long Island Rail Road in Jamaica. I asked a young man if he knew which train we were to catch. He thought he knew, but we both ended up getting on the wrong train and were fortunate that another rider told us where to get off to board the right one. We pulled into Jamaica 2 minutes too late to catch the next train that would have taken me to my destination so had to wait nearly another hour. Finally, I stepped off that train in East Williston and walked to my daughter’s house dragging my wheeled bag behind me. The UP side of this adventure? I now know how to get to my daughter’s home without relying on anyone to come fetch me from the airport. The downside? It took me 28 hours to get there – a journey that should have been 6 max!

Now, if only congress could work together to solve some of the other messes they’ve made!

Posted by: Skye AT 11:03 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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    Skye Taylor
    St Augustine, Florida
    skye@skye-writer.com

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