A memorable weekend

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Within five minutes of his arrival, he was stripping down in the kitchen, ready to go swimming.

As soon as his cousin arrived, she also headed for the clear water. My grandchildren, Henry and Laura, are like the six generations before them at Compass Lake. They are ready to go in the water. So began our family’s annual Memorial Day weekend.

It is not only our time to celebrate our nation’s fallen military; it is the unofficial kickoff for summer around the country. We usually have babyback ribs as main meal, but switched to a low country boil this year to better accommodate my shoulder, which is recuperating from surgery.

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By the time Mary Lou and I arrived, everyone was in the water. Henry and Laura shrieked with excitement when they saw us, which was a good sign that this would be a special holiday.

They played together for hours giving their worn-our parents an occasional brief break.

Henry has shed his shyness around water and is willing to slide, float or jump off anything. Laura wears a flotation jacket because she knows no fear of the water even though she is not quite 2 years old.

Together, they built some great sand castles and played together on the floats. They take breaks under the tents long enough for some crackers and juice and then they are ready to go at it again.

Their parents have trained them well. They put on waterproof sunscreen before they even go outside. I was married before I seriously used sunscreen, a mistake I now pay the price for. They wear swim shoes, which prevents the endless splinters I had as a child. I can still remember the fear watching my mother heat up a needle before digging a splinter out of my foot.

Laura and Henry watched cartoons together, played games and even managed to occasionally take naps at the same time. It is no wonder that I took almost 150 pictures of them enjoying the lake just as I did at their age.

There were some firsts this year. Henry jumped off the deep end of the dock for the first time, although he was holding his Daddy’s hand. He flew his first kite, first with his Dad and then by himself. Laura, Henry and I captured a lizard, their first, though we hunted for them the rest of the weekend.

We saw the sun come up through the fog reflecting on the water.

“Look, Granddaddy, there are two moons,” Henry said. That night we saw thousands of stars from the dock.

Laura and Henry hunted the fish that occasionally swim under the boathouse. They participated for the first time in the sunset cruise when everyone from their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were onboard the boat.

They both took a slow long rock in their great-grandmother’s lap, which was the highlight of her visit. They call her Grandmother since she is the only one great or otherwise that uses that name in our family. This was the first holiday they both said it clearly, talking directly to her. She ate it up.

Mary Lou presided in her position as their favorite, or so she says. I just stayed busy giving them everything they wanted and sneaking them both cookies and strawberries.

By the afternoon of the second day, everyone was collapsing from the sun and non-stop activity. Everyone in the house took a nap at some point and just about every hammock, cot and couch was being used. The grown-ups woke up a bit sluggish but the kids were fully rejuvenated and ready to hit the water again.

Snacks, hot dogs, sandwiches and cheese were part of the daytime menus. At night, the low country boil filled everyone up. This year peanut butter pie replaced the traditional homemade ice cream. A gallon of milk per day was about the norm.

It wasn’t all perfect. One person did get a splinter in their hand—me. One person spilt their drink at the table—Grandmama Jobie. Henry fell off the dock against a tree just as some were leaving. It scared everyone, but he is a tough little guy and he won’t let that slow him down.

On Memorial Day weekend our country gave thanks for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in making this country what it is. We honor their sacrifice by making the most of the life in this country they fought so hard to preserve.

My family continues to honor these brave men and women each year and is grateful that because of their sacrifices, we are able to truly have a memorable weekend. It wasn’t perfect, but it was about as close as you can get.