I was blessed to have a mother who was a native Outer Banker and a father who, once Mom introduced him to it, just loved the beach. He was a hard-working and successful physician who knew she wanted a summer place and that he needed a place to relax and unwind. Plus, with two children in the family and the third soon to be added, it would be the perfect family place for memories and I can attest to how it truly filled that bill and then some. So, what was it about having a place on the oceanfront during all of those summer years that made the Friday of arrival so special? Simple put, it was the realization on arrival that what I would experience in the days ahead would transform my spirit as if by magic, a time where bathing suits and bare feet were the rule and everyone knew all those around them. It was small town America on the Atlantic coast and a family place where families returned year after year and all of the wonderful locals also came to be friends. It was safe and secure, everyone looked out for each other and locks weren't needed for crime was practically non-existent and the beach was wide, dogs could run free, bonfires required no permit, traffic was not an issue, and jeeps were plentiful, both on the beach and on Jockey's Ridge.
All of those things certainly had their impact on me in my first eighteen years, but it was much more than just that. Maybe those Fridays were so important because of the impression they had on me. Maybe the impression I had of knowing that every morning I awoke would be a glorious time to walk the beach early, see that glory of the sunrise and what it meant. Maybe it was learning from the birds in the sky and on the beach of how hard work was necessary for both success and survival. Maybe it was watching the local fishermen bring in nature's bounty and helping them to sort and get the catch ready for the market. Maybe it was learning to work a trotline or attending the little Baptist Church with the power man of God who truly loved his work and his church family. But perhaps most of all, it was having my father explain so much about how that beautiful place had to be appreciated and cherished, for things never stay the same for long and he was oh, so correct. That was so important, for when my father passed away during those years, those things he showed me and explained to me have stayed active in my heart and played such a role in my belief structure and my reliance on God. The place, however, has changed so dramatically that if the geography wasn't simlar to as it had been, it would be unrecognizable.
Now I don't know how many of you had similar experiences, but I know there are some of you who share those memories of Nags Head with me. And I'll bet, when you sit down and ponder all those wonderful times, the day when you arrived for the season probably had a similar impact. Thank you for the memories, Lord, for no one can ever take them away. They are truly part of my soul.