I'm so happy to finally announce the Runner-ups in the D&K End of Summer Contest. Their stories made us cry, feel like a kid again, sigh, laugh out loud, but most of all they brought us a deep thanksgiving that we are all connected through this board!
I want to thank you all for sharing some of your most memorable experiences.
* Each of the runner ups will recieve a $15.00 gift certificate which can be used for lunch or dinner.*
I've listed names in the order they posted their stories. I have one more to post that I have to retrieve from the cafe. Below the names are the stories....if you haven't read them yet please do! As you can see everyone who posted a story was a winner!
Cork on the Ocean
"Your only treasures are those that you carry in your heart."
My greatest treasure for this summer is the memory of my Dad.
For my Dad was always there for me. I was not an easy child to raise. I had my moments and I was blessed with two brothers that were about as near to perfect as one can get. One grew up to be a minister.
But Dad never ever gave up on me, even at times when my Mom was ready to put me on the curb. He would simply say, "She is the only daughter I have, therefore she is the best I have."
Unconditional love. That was my Dad. When my daughter was born, I had a very difficult delivery and both my daughter and I ended up in intensive care before the night was out.
The delivery was at 8:10pm and by 3am they had told my husband our daughter was doing good, so he went back to the waiting room to check on my parents.
He asked would they like to come to our house and get some rest. My Dad replied, you know your daughter is going to be fine, until I know "my daughter" is going to be fine, I am not leaving.
Next morning when they rolled me out of Intensive care to a room, my Dad was waiting.
In being so remembered his legacy will live on.
I love you Dad, and miss you greatly but you and Meredith are my greatest treasures.
...thanks for your kind words Kat. I have had quite a summer....and it is not near over yet. I might short out my computer with tears if I tried to write it all down. I'll just say this...sowal.com has helped me in so many ways by being a friend that was there morning, noon and night....and especially early early in the morning....when it was too early to make phone calls, or when I wanted to put off making important ones. Logging on here, I can always find someone with something to say about...just about everything! SoWal.com can make me laugh so hard, cry so sweetly, bang my head and think so hard! I thank all the sowallers for "putting" up with me (like you have a choice...oh, you do, you can BLOCK me! ) The imaginary friends that have become my real friends are some of the best people on this earth. I treasure this wild and wacky place we call sowal.com and also the sowallers that make this an extraordinary place!
My most memorable event this summer.
If I had to say what my most memorable event this summer was – it would be the day I celebrated my birthday with my close friends. My birthday is June 11th but we decided to celebrate two days earlier to accommodate everyone’s work schedule.
Let me say, that I have lived in Seagrove my entire life. Well – ok since I was 6 months old. I have lots of favorite places that hold special memories. However, as a kid growing up here, I spent a lot of time in Panama City Beach.
So, for my birthday, the goal was for me and my friends to act like kids again.
The three of us from Seagrove hopped in one car to begin the celebration.
First we ate at Thomas’s Donut’s on front beach road. A fourth kid-in-training met us there. We all said ‘to heck’ with healthy eating, ordered our favorite fried foods and gobbled up donuts.
With each of us moaning – blaming each other for eating so much – we headed to FunLand arcade. Now this place is very special to me. When I walk in and hear the games blaring, it is like I stepped back into the happiest moment of my childhood. We played one of everything, challenging each other at who could play pool, air-hockey or kill zombies better.
The convoy made two more stops and gained two more kids-in-training. The memory that makes me smile the most is being in Ripley’s in front of the motion sensor disco screen, watching two of my favorite people dance like no one was watching.
I am a very lucky girl to have such crazy, up for anything friends.
I took my Mom to the doctor for a regular checkup a couple of weeks ago. Her mental facilities are deteriorating rapidly, and she has lost a lot of weight. The doctor told me that she has Alzheimer's anorexia and that she didn't have long to live. With tears in his eyes, he told me that she would die peacefully and with no pain. He didn't recommend taking extraordinary measures to save her, such as a feeding tube. I totally agree because that would cause her to be institutionalized and suffer pain, when now my siblings and I have decided to pay for someone to stay with her in the security and comfort of her own home. The doctor said that basically my Mom's body is healthy, but she has "left the building." I had come to a realization of this in the past few months, but it was incredibly difficult to hear someone verbalize this. Mom was sitting right there when he said this, and she wasn't lucid enough to understand what he was saying.
I love you, Mama. As a direct quote from you, Mama, which some of you on this board will remember, I will say that "even if I saw you every day, it wouldn't be enough. I love you."
Cork on the Ocean
As many sowallers know, my dad was diagnosed with cancer last fall and I left Sowal to help my parents. I was gone till the end of June. I cannot express the helplessness and frustration that I felt watching my strong, confident, take-charge dad become so weak and dependent. Some of you know him. I found a strength in my mom that I never knew existed and we all became closer than I ever imagined but it was the scariest time of my life.
In the madness, I found a selfless love and unconditional acceptance in my sowal friends that I didn't know was there. I had crawled into a shell and put all my focus on my dad's illness and what it was doing to my family. From IBD calling me to make sure I knew about the Christmas exchange to Ali whisking me away to forget my problems and all those in between who opened their arms to welcome me home even when they called me and I never called back - Toots, DD, BB, Audie, jdarg, lindatat, Ms Kitty, Kurt, SJ, Timmy, Franny, Mango, Paula, Beachmom, GTBM, RO, KD, Peapod, Biff, Dune-Ahh, The Merms, Kaiboo, John R, Kat, Potato Vixen, Drunken Artist, Goofer, The Steelings & Grayton Kid, Punzy, Chickpea, Lisaatthe beach, BR, COS etc. etc. I know I missed some but I know you understand. They made coming back to Sowal this summer like "coming home" and it brings me to tears to know that I am surrounded in such beauty. I'm just coming out of my shell thanks to all of you. My summer has been the most loving summer, the most enlightening summer, the most beautiful summer that I have ever know thanks to the beauty of Sowal and the people that make it that way.
As to a lesson, it came from a special Sowaller who made a statement a couple of weeks ago that stuck with me. She said that her hubby's cancer and subsequent death gave her the opportunity to share a closeness that they would have otherwise never had. I immediately understood and found good in the most challenging experience of my life."
As most of you know, my brother is Biff. I love him with all my heart and am blessed to have him as a member of my family. I was thinking, I have never been to SoWal. Biff has! He had spoken of the beautiful and wonderful people he has met here and how he will move there in the very near future. He introduced me to his "other Family" here on the SoWal Board, and my life was touched!! I know now, in my heart I have visited SoWal, and am in love with the people as he has been for so long!!So, anyway, my event...
MYmost WOnderful EvenT this SUmmer
I had the chance to go visit Biff this summer. I realized that in the past 12 years, I had only gone to visit him ONE time! (Bad SIS!) I stayed with him when our Poppers passed away a couple of years ago, but that was the only time I had been to see him. He had been to visit me in NM, but I never took the time to go see him. Well this summer I did it!! I went around the fourth of July. It had been so long, I had forgotten how much we have in common and how much fun we have together!!! It seems strange to have so many memories of the past, as we grow older. Time has no mercy and age continues to count. We have shared many sad and troubling times, many blessed events and of course shared so many hours of laughter! Although both of us may have a few "extra cushion", maybe a gray hair here and there and some worn leather, we are still those kiddos laughing and playing jokes on each other as well as with my twin sister. Our faces have changed, but our hearts have remained the same. I realized at that time, that Love and Family are THE most important things one can have in one's life! I feel like my extended family is here on the SoWal Board. THANKS!!! So, my vacation with my little brother was the most wonderful event of my SUMMER!!!!!
My Summer Christmas Story
If you have never paddled the Econfina Creek, you have missed out on a truly excellent adventure. Meandering between limestone banks and bordered with overhanging trees, the Econfina Creek is home to spectacular gin-clear springs. Paddling down the shallow tea-colored creek, you will suddenly encounter a bright blue slash of water coming from the direction of the shore. Follow that stunning blue water to its source and you will come to a pool of cold, crystal clear water, white sand, and a deep vent or cave where you can actually feel the water flowing out of the aquifer. It is otherworldly in its beauty – like a place that should only be inhabited by fairies.
This past July, my husband and I took a quick trip to the springs with one of our sons. I was tired of the beach and really needed my spring “fix.” We only had a couple of hours, so we packed a fried chicken lunch and headed to the creek. We put our kayaks in at the Hwy. 20 bridge and paddled down to Gainer Spring, a mere 10-minutes downriver. It was Saturday, so we knew that the spring would be full of locals, and indeed it was. Families, kids, couples, rednecks – there had to be 30 people at the spring. Kenny Chesney was playing on someone’s radio, teenagers were jumping off a limestone ledge, and others were snorkeling and trying to catch turtles and tadpoles.
As we were devouring our chicken, we heard a familiar tune coming from the direction of the river. We all looked at each other, and the people around us became quiet. Yes, we all knew that tune! “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose….” The crowd stopped, waiting to see where the music was coming from, when Santa Claus himself (bushy beard and all) came paddling, very slowly, into view. The music was coming from Santa’s boombox! Clad in his red shirt with white trim, his hat, and a swim suit, Santa seemed a little thinner than his normal winter weight. But the kids didn’t seem to notice or care, and they squealed in delight as he carefully exited his canoe and hoisted a large drawstring bag over his shoulder. And then, Santa did what Santa does best. He began handing out toys: squirt guns, Frisbees, nerf footballs, buckets, and nets. Everybody clapped and cheered and Santa looked pleased. He hugged the children, got back in his canoe, and paddled away without saying a single word.
It seems almost like a dream, but I will never forget that Christmas in July!
What a grayt family summer story Grayton Girl!
I've learned a lot during my life but this summer I met a young student much younger than myself that changed my life.
I started a part time job a couple nights a week mainly to get off the couch. I felt I was dying on the vine. I love to be around people and I thought this would give me the opportunity to meet new ones.
This summer I worked with a young lady from Tennessee. She had just turned 21 years old and was of strong faith. Her father a minister had an influence in which she decided to be a missionary in hopes of helping people all over the world. She attended the University and was in her last year. She came to our area to work in the summer to help pay for her studies.
The first year she worked in the area she came to party at the beach thinking of herself. She had a good time but felt something just wasn't right. She almost decided not to come back this year but last minute changed her mind. She explained this year she had decided to come back bringing her faith in God with her. She wanted to touch as many lives as possible while working on our beach and that's just what she accomplished..........
We worked together several nights over the summer and this 21 year old changed my life in more ways than one. She taught me how to look at things differently when troubled or stressed. She was a lovely young lady with wisdom and the love for God. She was as beautiful on the inside as well on the outside. It was a pleasure to be around her.
Before she parted to go back to school we went out for a drink after work. In more of a relaxed atmosphere we chatted about our interests in life.
Mine were mainly children and grand children. She told me she had gotten her pilots license when she was 17 and how she loved to fly. This young girl was so accomplished I have faith in her desire to touch peoples lives all over the world as she touched mine.
My most memorable moment this summer is when I wrote this story for my mother who I haven't seen or spoken with in 16 years: (that's another story)
Once not long ago, there was a beautiful shell that lived in the vastness of the sea. This particular shell loved to sing. Whether she opened her mouth very wide or just a tiny bit, out poured the most wonderful melody. One day our shell opened her mouth to sing and a piece of driftwood got stuck in her throat! After a good long coughing spell, she managed to clear her throat. Ahem! (That’s better)
One day our shell didn’t feel like quite herself. (Maybe she ate something that didn’t agree with her) Well wouldn’t you know it, but that shell opened up her mouth to sing and out come a pearl! Oh you never saw such a pearl! This pearl was truly unique.
(Incidentally, this pearl was precisely the fourth out of a strand of six magnificent jewels)
So did I mention that our pearl was unique? Yes, well anyway, our pearl had quite a voice of her own. Many would say it was similar to our shell. (Did you forget about our shell?) Our pearl would sing and sing. Our pearl sang in every way you could imagine!
Well, I told you our pearl was unique, didn’t I?
One day not so long ago, our pearl stopped singing. Then, she drifted away into the vastness of the sea. She rolled along the ocean floor for what seemed like an eternity until she got stuck under a huge piece of coral. Oh she was stuck! Our pearl opened her mouth to sing, but nothing came out! She had lost her voice! How would anyone hear her?
(Just the other day I heard that our pearl was rescued. You gotta hear this one…)
[Incidentally, this is where you pause to keep ‘em all in suspense]
Now, where was I…
Our pearl? Well, she managed to hitch a ride with a mermaid.
(But that’s a whole other story…)
[Incidentally, you might want to whisper that last line for dramatic effect]