On Christmas Eve, I started a series of virtual gifts for the women whose blogs I have come to enjoy in the past year. Visitors to Social Bridge know that Jean loves the Garrarus Beach, and Tramore, and because she shares it with us often, many of us have come to look forward to the ever changing waters and sands and rocks where we humans lift our feet off the edges of the world and immerse ourselves the closest we shall ever come to floating in time and space. I’ve not been to Ireland, let alone Garrarus or Tramore, but it is on my list of things to do, and I’ve a few years left in which to make it. Meanwhile, I share a gift of some of my favorite beaches and their waters.
I was introduced to the most stunning beaches and waters of the Western Cape of South Africa, and thus, they are among those places I feel with affection somewhat akin to that Jean feels for Garrarus and Tramore. Alas, I do not have the joy and privilege to be able to see them every day as she does her beloveds.
I grew up in West Texas, where water is as scarce as hen’s teeth. Our family outings took us to the Brazos River and floating, as the water was never deep enough for swimming. Still, it formed my early ideas of what was beautiful and serene, and what we lacked for in water, we made up in the abundance of the sand.
My dad learned to swim in this creek that flowed behind the family home, albeit at a time when the swimming hole had more water. I imagine he and his brothers felt a similar joy to jumping in the muddy brown waters after a spring rain as Jean does when she runs into the waves at Garrarus. Experiences are like bridges, and they connect us to one another even though we may never actually be in the same physical plane at the same moment.
I was an adolescent before I ever even saw the Gulf of Mexico, and a young adult by the time I saw the Pacific Ocean. Most of my water experience was like the stream in dad’s pasture, and my mother spoke of growing up drinking water out of a cow track. (Yep, that’s what she said. Remember that bit about water being as scarce as hen’s teeth?).
Jean is a sociologist, and I am a social worker. Though those are two different professions, with different purposes, social work was built on knowledge from sociology, and other disciplines and professions. I think that is another of the reasons I feel a connection–a social bridge–to women like Jean. We are all connected–it is after all, a systemic world in which we live. For some, those connections seem a bit stronger or more tightly woven. In this case, it’s not just the love of the waters and the poetic words, the love of a dog (hugs, Puppy Stan!), but also the love of one’s parents, and the privilege and opportunity to care for them in their elder years.
For the longest time, I could not bring myself to read her stories of her parents and caring for them. I am just starting this path with my own parents, and though at 89 and 87, I know I have had mine far longer than many do, it’s still daily uncharted territory. Those bridges are getting a little easier to cross now. Thank you, Jean, for all the gifts you have shared.