MONDAY, AUGUST 29, 2016
Sunday my sister had put together an entire fun-day itinerary for us since I was still there and she was determined to make the most of it. She and the kids were going to take me to a breakfast place that they adore, and then we were going to go to Ocean City’s (New Jersey) boardwalk and hit the arcade. In the meantime, she and her husband were also starting to work on big birthday plans for my nephew now that everyone was home. I was beginning to get gently encouraged by them and my parents to stay for the festivities. I’m guessing since my brother-in-law was up to his eyeballs in recent consulting work, he was feeling left out of the fun-day plans and wanted to be included for the little time he had free. Instead of going to the breakfast place they adored that was further away, we ended up going to the diner down the street for breakfast so he could join us. After, we would go our own way. Here was another chance to eat good breakfast food and I was down. When we got there, we all slid around the booth like a crowd of circus clowns and had a crossword challenge, tasty food and a few laughs. I have to tell this part because it still tickles me: I told the waitress that I wanted the Absecon Wrap (named after the town they live) and my brother-in-law proceeds to rap, about Absecon. It was rich. I l loved it.
It was a nice sunny day, perhaps sunnier than expected. By the time we got to the boardwalk, we realized that we were unprepared for rays of the sun. My sister made a quick dip into one of the many shops to get sunscreen for the kids and I debated heavily about getting a hat. The boardwalk was bustling for a late summer Monday. Now that I was not going to be spending money in Cape Cod, I was prepared to join my sister in some major retail therapy right there and then, nothing was too expensive today. Along the way, there were a few shops that she had mentioned she had wanted to show me for some time. The kids could have cared less, but my sister and I were excited to buy some temporary happiness. In the one store, it seemed as if we loved everything and had to have it. I know the saleswomen got a kick out of us for buying everything we set eyes on and so quickly. While in line, I even ran back to get one more item that I just knew I would regret not buying. For the kids, their outlet was eating Rita’s, any other boardwalk nibble that they could get their hands on and going into the arcades. Once we arrived at the arcade of choice, we each took a kid and loaded them up on quarters. This one game in particular, the kids joined forces and played together. Their mission was to shoot and kill zombies with shotguns. I am pretty sure that the gun alone was as tall as my niece, but remarkably, she was a very good shot. I couldn’t help but laugh at this gun-toting squirt. She was very serious. It was a lovely distraction. Before we left the arcade, in a moment of slight curiosity, I consulted Zoltar, the fortuneteller machine, looking for some answers about my immediate future. I put the money in the slot and the machine lit up and Zoltar’s eyes opened as he produced my fortune. After I read the fortune card, I thought it was destined for me, like most dopes. I desperately wanted it to be true.
I have to give my sister credit for managing a fun day while dealing with the loss herself, as the oldest of the grandchildren, and deal with her kids and practically another - my emotionally fragile self. After go carts, arcades, shopping and boardwalk treats, we went for a quiet drive and headed to the nearby town of Margate. She took us to Lucy the Elephant, a six story high elephantidae Historical Landmark. When we pulled into the parking lot and stared up at the elephant, it became clear that the kids were split on their decision and desire to go. I think my sister and I were the only ones truly interested. We both wondered if our grandparents had been here. It became a battle of wills, but eventually both kids conceded and agreed, and basically forced. I went into the gift shop to purchase our tickets and we waited for our tour to start. Luckily, it wasn’t too long of a wait because the kids were getting a little antsy. The young woman giving the tour met us at the door in Lucy’s leg. The tour group was mostly adults. Lucy was built in 1881 and has moved around a few times and lived a few different lives. The view from the top was worth it in the end. It is hard to imagine the many visitors who have walked up and down the narrow steps over the many years.
Backing the other side of the Lucy the Elephant parking lot as was a restaurant with outdoor seating. It was at the height of lunch hour and the place was already filled with hungry guests. The decision was made to eat there, but we had to park our car on the other side in the restaurant lot since the parking was only for Lucy the Elephant, and the attendant let you know that immediately. The rooftop bar on the other side was close to the beach and ready to seat us immediately. We scoured the menu for a bit and ordered. My nephew and I chose to share a Stromboli for two. He also got wings that he practically slaughtered. He is such a chicken fighter. As a non-wing eater, it will always fascinate me. While my sister left to use the restroom, I took that opportunity to address a comment that my nephew made earlier to me that made me very upset. I realized in mid conversation that I may have been wasting my time trying to explain to them how hard their parents work to create the lives that that they live and they need to do a better job of doing as they are told. I had to remind them that my relationship with their mother comes before my relationship with them and I am going to take her side on the issue. I couldn’t tell if he believed me. Who knows if they ever listen to what I say to them but I thought it couldn’t hurt.
Lunch was nice outside in the ocean breeze. Earlier in the day at Ocean City, I made the request to put my feet in the ocean but I did not get the opportunity. I had forgotten that in New Jersey, you have to pay a fee to get a pass for the day to go onto the beach. That didn’t seem worth it just to briefly splash about ankle high. Luckily, at this location, we did not need a pass and off we went to the beach. Most of the time was spent looking out at the horizon and telling my niece to be careful as the kids played tag with the water’s edge. Otherwise, we were all grateful to feel the sun on our face and ocean lapping at our feet. I used this time to reflect on my current loss as well as try to simply be present. It was hard to completely concentrate on one or the other, but I was pleased to be there.