Countdown by Sharon O’Donnell
Well, the countdown is on. One more week until we take my middle son two hours away to start his freshman year at college. Where did the summer go?
This past week we did get away for a vacation with our family plus one of my sisters and her family (including two of her three sons). We all went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina near Nag’s Head and Kill Devil Hills. The last time we went there was in 2003, and of course my youngest who had just turned 3 doesn’t remember that trip, and my middle son doesn’t remember a lot about it. I myself don’t even remember a great deal about it other than we stayed in our camper that we have since sold — a must to sell when our oldest son was so tall he kept hitting his head on the ceiling. My youngest son, Jason, asked me why we went places when he was so young that he couldn’t remember it; I told him that his brothers had been old enough to have some memories of it and we wanted to go with them so they could see the Wright Brother’s Memorial, the Jockey’s Ridge sand dune, and The Lost Colony outdoor drama. But then as it’s always been with the age gap between our children, we wanted to go again now that he is older so he, too, will have those memories. Repeat vacations are common with age gap kids.
This time it was even more special since two of their cousins could go too. It’s extremely rare to be able to find a time that my family can go somewhere together, not to mention my sister’s family. And we stayed for a week and did all the historical stuff mentioned above plus just sitting out on the beach and relaxing and eating lots of shrimp. Stayed at a great place called the First Flight Retreat. All the boys loved the play, The Lost Colony, which I was thrilled about because I’d loved it when I was growing up. It’s the story of the colony Sir Walter Raleigh tried to start on the NC coast in 1587, but when England went to war with Spain, ships couldn’t get back over to the colony with supplies — and the colony had ‘disappeared’ when the ships finally returned.
Standing at the very spot where the first flight lifted off is a pretty strange feeling — and the Wright Brothers were amazing.
I have to say, though, the highlight of the trip was our visit to Jockey’s Ridge, the largest sand dune on the east coast. We’d been before, but that time we’d visited in the heat of the day, and it wasn’t as enjoyable. Also, my boys couldn’t really appreciate the beauty of the place when they were younger — but they certainly did the other day. Wow! It was like being in another world totally covered in sand and looking down on the rest of the world of beach cottages and water. The sun was setting, and it was breathtaking. Somebody should shoot a movie there.
Yet, every day, I was counting down. Counting down the number of days left until David, my middle son, goes to college. I will miss him so much. I think part of the reason I wanted a family vacation before college started again was that I’d have both my two oldest sons with me for an entire week with nothing else on their schedules except to be with their family. I knew that David would be leaving, and my oldest, Billy, would start his senior year in college a few days before David leaves. I was very aware of the meaning of the words “fleeting moments”. And even though Jockey’s Ridge was awesome, I think perhaps just having my boys with me for one last week together like it used to be, was probably the real highlight.