When I was 9 years old I remember going to our beach house with my grandfather. It was a special place- built by my Great Grandfather. He called it a fishing shack- a place to spend the day out on the bay on a boat named “The Finnegan Jethro” stringing together enough fish for a feast. (I just realized I’ve always wanted to know where that name came from, and the person I would most like to ask is no longer here). It was a bit musty with paint peeling from the boards that fastened together a two room cabin- but that simple little house could somehow sleep 40 people. Fancy furnishings of the 1960s scattered here and there showed that my grandmother had once tried to put her upper-class decorating spin on the place, and hence the shack was transformed into “the beach house”. Still, it was decorated with little people made out of seashells and googly eyes and strings of coke tabs folded into chains to hold back curtains and hang plants. I can picture my great-grandmother gluing those funny little eyes on her seashell finds of the day.
There’s a story in here somewhere that I really wanted to tell, but the more I type about my great-grandparents (Daddy ‘O and Mama Jimmie) and my grandparents (Softy and Robbie Doll), the more I’m overwhelmed by memories of just how special these people were and how lucky I was to be raised in such a family of jokesters, fishermen, poker players, magicians and fancy decorators.
Like I was saying, I was about 9 years old when I took my allergy medicine with me for a week in Port Bolivar with my Softy. (I named my grandpa that the year before when he tried to scold me but just couldn’t do it. Shorty before his death he told me that name had forever changed him, but I suppose that’s a whole other story to tell.)
We spent our days scouring the beaches for seashells. We found the rare “Infant’s Ears” and a few sand dollars. He had a hot glue gun and we made a sand dollar with the little doves out beside it. Then I found the one thing I had searched for- a crucifix fish skull. As my grandfather and I combed the sands in search of these simple treasures he taught me about God’s love and the many signs throughout the universe that prove He is real.
I just realized in this very moment that those moments helped me to solidify my faith. Softy, I know you’re looking down on me, thank you sir for yet another gift you infused into my life.
During that trip we spent our evenings making dinner- pizza out of bagels (before Bagel Bites existed) and watching PBS. One evening there was this documentary about Marilyn Monroe and the many conspiracy theories surrounding her death. Softy brought the monotoned voice of the narrator to life with his interjections and explanations.
For hours we came up with our own ideas about how the CIA definitely murdered her for being smart enough to know the secrets of the two most powerful men in politics. I fell in love that night- with history, politics, and Marilyn Monroe.
My teenage years reflected my love for the 1950s and all its nostalgia. My grandfather bought me books about James Dean and Marilyn. I watched old black and white movies like The Misfits and The Prince and The Showgirl. I decided there was something magical and deeply intelligent about this woman who was idolized as a sex symbol, and that is when I realized, a woman can be anything she wants to be. She can bat her eyes and watch the men stare, she can perfect her craft and rise to top of her game, and she can be both tough and vulnerable in the same moments.
I could go on, but do you want to know what even sent my mind on this adventure today? I just bought new mascara. I love mascara. Nothing makes me feel as completely put together as long beautiful eyelashes do. I love when my mascara is thick, deep black, and full of effect. Rimmel-London has rarely disappointed me with their dramatic formulas.
This morning I was so excited as I took a new a brand new formulation out of the package. I could barely see the first coat. I tried 3 more. Finally I started to see little lashes emerge- NOT THE EFFECT I WAS EXPECTING. After a long night, and no sleep, I was counting on the reviving effect new makeup can have, and I was greatly disappointed. Then I remember that line from The Prince and The Showgirl, when the queen looked over at Marilyn Monroe and said “When a girl is very young, she should wear a lot of mascara, and when she gets older, she should wear even more.” Silly, yes- words to live by- most definitely!
Well, I didn’t get the lashes I needed to make this day uplifting, but I was reminded of the people who sure made this journey a fantastic ride.
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