A Day at the Beach, with a Side of Guilt

Monday Morning Musings:


“Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,

so do our minutes, hasten to their end.”

William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 60”


“The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit.”

–Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul


Fantastically, wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration,

a plan to get my mom to the beach for the day.

A notion hatched by H.

on Saturday afternoon, for the next day.

Younger daughter and I already had plans

because we like things set in advance,

definite, not tentative,


we decide to go along with this wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration idea,

despite the weather forecast.

Isn’t it supposed to thunderstorm?

(My first question to H.)

Texts and phone calls back and forth.

 “Jewish guilt will always force a change in plans.”

(Daughter says to me.)

So plans evolve.

We’ll travel in the morning,

have lunch there

and return home early to avoid the traffic.

Husband and I will still get together

with daughter and her husband later for dinner.

A horrible, wonderful, wildly improbable idea,

a beach day for my mom.


Three cars from three destinations travel to Ocean City, NJ.

It’s a Seinfeld episode,

or any sitcom,

the human comedy,

the comedy of errors

What could possibly go wrong?



My husband and I are the first to arrive in Ocean City.

We drive around, looking for a place to park the car.

We park.

The downpour begins.

I text the others

We’re here.

We’re sitting in the car

Waiting for the rain to stop.

Trying to be optimistic.

Oh, I hear thunder now.

Daughter replies

There’s a flood watch in effect.

All day.

But the skies clear,

the sun comes out

and my husband and I walk to the beach.

The sun is shining.

The beach looks washed and clean.

It is beautiful.

Daughter and her husband arrive.

They have met

H., her family, and my mom,

who have decided to walk on the boardwalk.

They will have lunch there.

We have packed our lunch,

but I expect we’ll see them soon.

Daughter and I walk on the beach,

walk and talk,

gazing at the ocean

looking at the gulls,


watching people,

the little boy who wanders in circles,

shovel in hand,

smile on face,

I keep expecting H. to text me

so we can help them

get my mom onto the beach.

I don’t want them to miss this beautiful day.

But no text.

We return to our beach chairs.

Daughter sits down with half a PB&J sandwich,

she takes one bite,

I hear a scream,

a gull has snatched the sandwich from her hand.

Scary, but kind of amazing.

We wait for H.,

and watch dark clouds moving in.

We wonder where they are,

she hasn’t answered the texts.

It’s getting close to when we planned to leave.

A beach checker comes by.

Do you have beach tags?

We don’t.

We decide to pack up,

and wait for H and family on the boardwalk.

Daughter sees them then–of course.

H. has paid for a special wheelchair contraption to get my mom onto the beach.

My mom can’t get into it.

So my mom holds H’s arm on one side

mine on the other, and

we begin a slow walk over sand,

a few feet that seem like miles.

H’s husband sets up their umbrella and chairs,

and it begins to rain.

My husband and daughter have packed up our things.

We leave my mom with H’s family on the beach,

feeling guilty,

but it stops raining.

at least for a time.


In the evening, after showers and rest

my husband and I eat pizza and drink wine

with our daughter and her husband,

dog and cat sitting with us companionably.

We watch an old Star Trek movie,

it also involves fantastically, wildly impossible ideas,

but we know Captain Picard and his crew will triumph over

the creepy Borg Queen,

love, friendship, kindness, and creativity

trump evil,

humanity will be saved

once again,

a comforting thought.

I haven’t heard yet what happened

with H., her family, and my mom.

I hope they had a great time on the beach.

It’s a fantastically, improbable idea

but one worthy of consideration.






32 thoughts on “A Day at the Beach, with a Side of Guilt

  1. Loved this Merril thank you – am smiling! ‘Jewish guilt will always force a change in plans’ – straight out of Seinfeld even if it was your daughter who said it! And the sea gull swiping the sandwich! Once a seagull took a friend of mine’s small brown paper bag in which was her medication just bought. ‘The best laid plans of mice and men Gang aft agley’ (go awry) … 🙂

    • Thank you, Susan!
      Your poor friend. I hope she was able to replace the medicine without too much trouble. I picturing trying to convince the pharmacist what had happened. I imagine the seagull wasn’t too thrilled with his prize either. 🙂

  2. I chuckled knowingly all the way through this adventure, Merril. Reminds me of several attempted vacations when I was growing up on the farm. They too were the stuff of sitcoms.

  3. No bland beach day for you, contrary to the pleasant smiles I saw on your mother/daughter Facebook photo yesterday. My sister once had heatstroke at Jacksonville Beach and a hunky life-guard brought her a wheelchair with wheels the size of inner tubes. She was embarrassed but saw the humor and laughed with us.

    • Thank you, Marian. Our little group ended up having a fun beach day–my niece, not so much.
      I think the wheelchair you’ve described is what my niece tried for my mom, but my mom couldn’t get into it. I’m glad your sister was able to laugh about the situation, and that she was OK.

  4. Merril, this is such a great reminder of the importance of keeping our sense of humor! Who needs Seinfeld when our own lives are riddled with such adventures. The best laid plans…Thank you😊

  5. Finally, I got to your beach adventure.
    I was right there with you
    (Did you see me?
    Probably not)

    Through the ups and through the downs (the sea gull, so unexpected; I see the p stuck in its beak, hard to swallow; oh dear)

    Your ability to stay positive in the face of disappointment (?) frustration (certainly) is inspiring, Merril.
    I still want your family to adopt me
    But who, pray tell, is H?

  6. SO MUCH in here – and so much for me to say! But I’ll contain myself. I’m off to OC, NJ Saturday for a week with my wild and crazy family, kids, grandkids, nephews, brother/wife, niece. Two years ago, we all did the same and celebrated my mom and her 91st birthday. Hired a steel ‘band’ (two guys) to play on the beach while mom danced and we drank marguerites. This year, she’s in her assisted living home, unable to play, so I’ll visit her. Maybe I’ll make her a marguerite.
    Thanks for sharing YOUR experience at OC, NJ. xo

    • Thanks so much, Pam. Do live in NJ? (Sorry if we’ve discussed this before.) For many years, we’ve only done quick day trips, but for years, we’d go to Ocean City, NJ with our girls and stay at the same B&B.
      I wish I had been on the beach when you were there with the steel “band.” So much fun! It would be fun to meet you, too.
      Have a wonderful time with your “wild and crazy” family! 🙂

      • I live in the Boston area now, SF bay area for 20 years, but grew up in Southern NJ, where our summer vacations were always going to OC,NJ. My brother and I kept up the tradition with our kids (going together) and now our kids are doing the same with their kids. How cool is that? xo

      • Well, if you’re ever in the Boston area and have time/chance to explore a little outside the city (I live near that historic town Concord MA), I’d love to meet up sometime.

  7. Aww, some positivesbut a few “monkey wrenches” thrown into the day, huh?! I am dismayed the wheelchair didn’t work not the getting together earlier when not raining. You da your Mom, you enjoyed the beach and i was sorry for that ornery, greedy seagull!
    Happy ending to a busy, rather hectic day.
    Definitely reminded me of the “Seinfeld” episode lost in a shopping and parking garage!! 🙂 hugs to all xo

    • Thanks, Robin. My husband and I and our daughter and her husband had a great day–beach and afterwards–but my niece was super-stressed. My mom said later she had a good day–so I guess it worked out. 😉

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