Thank you Dad!
The Carolina coast, in all its splendid beauty with sugar white beaches, is a favorite of mine. I suppose it is a part of my DNA. My father, a North Carolina boy, grew up spending his summers in the shade of the old Ocean Forest Hotel on the grand strand in Myrtle Beach; shagging away summer nights at OD (Ocean Drive) and Cherry Grove; and eating at Lee’s Inlet Kitchen. My mother, a Charlestonian, grew up crabbing off the Citadel dock; wading through pluff mud; sunning on Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms and Folly Beach,; and a being warned not to swim in Breach Inlet.
My first trip to the beach was as a one-year old. Growing up meant summers at the beach staying first at the Chesterfield or Patricia in Myrtle Beach and, as I grew older, working our way to Pawley’s Island, Isle of Palms, and Kiawah before finally, after Dad retired, settling on a place at Sunset Beach.
Beach time with Dad created a special bond between the two of us. He loved the coast announcing he had salt water in his veins and that we sprang from the ocean. It was at the coast that he taught me to swim and ride the waves following his morning round of golf. As a teen and young adult, we enjoyed long walks on the beach discussing my choice of college, career, and relationships. It was under an umbrella on the beach that he shared his insatiable love of reading. I have fond memories of sharing Ludlum, Jakes, Michener, Forsyth, and Clancy in addition to the Wall Street Journal.
Dad also shared his sense of adventure (and love of a good meal) as we sought out local shrimpers for the night’s meal. Exploring unknown roads in the middle of nowhere, we would eventually locate a dirt path leading to a dock and a shrimp boat where he would purchase shrimp from the day’s catch to take back to Mom. She would then turn the fruit de mer into a decadent dish of shrimp creole, frogmore stew a/k/a low country boil, shrimp and grits, or boiled shrimp.
Dad died three years ago leaving a huge hole in all our lives. Each time I view the Atlantic Ocean or feel white sand between my toes, I feel his gift to me.
To all fathers and daughters on Father’s Day, Happy Father’s Day!