My father sang a special song to me when I was a child, as I dug moats around my sand-castles and designed dixie-cup turrets atop the castle walls. I’ll never forget the day I heard the song being played on the radio. I’d had the idea my father had made it up, just for me. It was shocking to discover there were other Mary Ann’s in the world sharing my song.
The words went like this: “All day, all night, Mary Ann. Sitting by the sea-side sifting sand.” When I was small, I spent every minute of every summer goofing off at our family lake home in Northern Idaho. That’s what I was put on this earth to do. Why else would Dad so cheerfully sing that song all the time?
Growing up was less than conducive in keeping me on my care-free sea-side life style. I was successfully fired a few times from high school summer jobs, because I wasn’t allowed to work on weekends or because I’d conveniently forget to go. “You’re no longer needed” were words I relished! After all, I had a suntan to perfect and water-skiing to do.
It was tough to grow up. I guess it must have been for a lot of us lucky enough to have those kinds of summers. Yet, as with everyone, summers were eventually used up by real life, a real job, and responsibilities including the needs of my own family. I learned to push the yearning to feel sand in my toes, sun on my skin, and an air mattress under my body to the back of my closet.
As life goes by, we sometimes forget the simple things that make us the happiest. There is a time, eventually, when we need to unpack the closet of our childhood and have a good look at what we’ve been missing. All those dreams and things we loved might have been out of sight and out of mind for a long time, but they’re still there and they are still important. As we get older, responsibilities lessen, kids grow up, and making money fails to be a top priority. This is a good time to revisit the sea-side.
My children are adults now. Life demands that the longings and needs of their still childlike hearts be shoved to the very back of their closets. I can only assure them, there will come a day when they will throw open that door, dig everything out, and rediscover all the things they are now forced to put on hold. And when they do, they too will rejoice in returning to sifting sand at the sea side of their childhood dreams.