The Sibilant Sound of Sand

This post comes from a weekly memoir writing prompt provided by The Red Dress Club. This week’s RemembeRED prompt was to write about sand. 

My mother hated sand.  She suffered no sand in her house, no sand in her car, no sand stuck between our toes to be tracked inside.  I could not understand her intolerance for the small, grainy particles.  Granted, she had grownup in the hills of Kentucky, far from the ocean, but we lived within walking distance of Long Island Sound, and my brother and sister and I were sand people, through and through.

When we were little, my mother would take us to the beach, but we knew she was just being a good sport about it, sitting in her chair under the beach umbrella, big-brimmed hat shading her fair freckled face from any ray of sun, and biding her time until we were old enough to walk to the beach ourselves.  Then she would greet our return with the garden hose turned on full force to remove every grain of sand from our bodies before we were allowed inside.  However, sand inevitably settled in our bathing suits, and we knew enough to stand in the tub to disrobe before we showered and washed the enemy down the drain.

I think about my mother and those sunny, sandy days of summer now that my husband and I live in Virginia Beach.  I find sand everywhere.  When I open the trunk of my car–sand.  When I take the last of the groceries from my shopping bags and peek in the bottom–sand.  Sand in my slippers, sand in the sink, sand on my floors and in my drawers.  Sand in my chairs and on the stairs.  And after a day at the beach, when I crawl into bed at night and stretch out my legs so nicely tanned, what do I find?  Sand.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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14 Responses to The Sibilant Sound of Sand

  1. Pamela Johnson says:

    This past week I have been involved in the matter of “de-cluttering” our house. Goal: Making it look presentable enough to be placed on the real estate market. I came across a letter postmarked March 9, 1994. It was a letter addressed from your mother to my father. Hand written in ink was a note: “Last letter I ever got from my sister. She died only four weeks later.” The letter contained only instructions on how to get to her house, but my dad did not throw it away. He wanted to keep it.

    I had never really known how my father felt about his sister (your mother). He didn’t talk about her much. But apparently he felt enough that he wanted to cherish something from the past. My note really isn’t about sand; it’s about memories of a loved one.

    I can see picture your mother sitting with her wide-brimmed hat on the beach. She was sweet and good-natured. She tolerated the sand to give her children happy moments. She probably thought little about the sand giving you happy memories every time she squirted you down with the hose.

    Love is eternal and can be found in the tiniest grain of sand.

    • comingeast says:

      Oh, Pammy, thank you for this! I’m glad he kept that letter. How hard it is to pack up a house to get it ready for selling. It is packing up a life. Wish I were there to go through it with you.

  2. Kelly says:

    I would do just about anything to have sand in my slippers and drawers.

  3. oooooo but its so worth it isnt it! x

  4. oldereyes says:

    My wife is exactly like your mother with respect to sand, and she grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I guess I didn’t know you lived in Virginia Beach … I’ve been there a few times when on business in Norfolk … and it’s the World Headquaters of Al-Aon Family Groups. a 12-step program I’m active in.

    • comingeast says:

      My husband spent his early years in Bridgeport before he moved to Stratford for middle school and high school. I didn’t know you work with Al-Anon. Such important work.

  5. judithhb says:

    What memories that brought back. When we first returned to NZ from Montreal we rented a house whose front garden ran down to the beach. And oh that sand. My son had his birthday while we were there and seven or eight 7 or 8 year olds ran through the house distributing sand everywhere. The sand was the only drawback to living right on the beach.
    Judith

  6. This made me laugh. I thought about my mom as I was reading this. She hates sand, too! She hates sand, the sun, and the beach.

    • comingeast says:

      Did she grow up inland, too? When we lived in San Antonio for nearly 29 years, I missed my ocean so much. Can’t believe my good fortune that we moved to Virginia Beach!

  7. Frume Sarah says:

    It’s so true. When we lived a couple of blocks from the beach, we were amazed at the everpresent sand in apartment, car, etc. We couldn’t seem to escape it.

    thanks for calling up that memory.

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