Birthday glow

I must have a birthday glow about me . . . maybe it's my summer hat?  (Thanks, Mom T.!)  Since kicking off the month of August in Vancouver with my Mom, A., and some of the C. Clan, A. & I decided a pleasant, quiet roundoff to the week would be some shared time at the 'Squan Inlet, our usual spot for quieting our minds, refueling, reconnecting with each other, ourselves as well as with other family members.  

To my delight, the T. tribe joined us on my birthday eve at the Inlet fence for a chillaxin' session complete with super fresh cherries & watermelon, not to mention the coveted oreos.  And A. & I returned this birthday evening for an intimate supper picnic on the beach . . . seaside.  Sadly, we were without a bottle of wine to accompany our heart-healthy pizza.  Regardless, it was a time for deliberate mindfulness as the waves climbed higher to tickle our blankets.

When we transitioned to the Inlet fence for some casual fishing, an elderly man parked himself on the bench we staked out, coffee in one hand, much too salted pretzel in the other.  The warm and cold winds exchanged hands, so I wore my 28-year-old Academy (A.S.A.) grammar school windbreaker.  He asked me if St. Al's was the one by Lincoln Park in Jersey City.  I said, the Academy was up the hill and all-girls.  And he went on to share how he was a substitute teacher at the co-ed St. Al's as well as in Central Jersey and taught English, Algebra and phys ed to elementary school students.  He'd even recalled Hudson Boulevard in JC, which was the old school name for Kennedy Boulevard.  

Originally from Maplewood, he shared his life story -- how his grandfather bought two city blocks worth of property across the Inlet for $900, how he used to go spear fishing for fluke by the jetty on the Point Pleasant side, and how he met his wife in Sea Girt.  Referred to himself as half clam digger and half spear fisherman.  Retired the past 15 years, he and his wife enjoyed living in 'Squan . . . his wife preferred walking along the dunes as he waited for her along the Inlet fence . . . because he's lazy.  When his youngest son, now in the Air Force, was 12, they'd taken a cross-country drive . . . and how wonderful it is to travel the United States.  Beautiful land here before folks go outside the country, he said.  He talked fishermen-speak with A. for a bit -- the farthest yardage cast, the biggest fluke caught -- before his wife arrived and said she was ready to go.

Knowing A. is hyper-cautious of strangers (though I naturally err on immediately trusting the goodness in folks), I didn't allow myself to fully enjoy our conversation as I thought I might miss some dangerous or unfriendly sign. Right before the elderly man rejoined his wife, he'd mentioned how he was just a few months in cardiac rehab:  triple bypass, six stents, bottom half of his heart not functional.  

And then I connected.  Fully.  We shared A.'s healthy heart journey, how he'd never had a heart attack, but did inherit a strong family history of not-so-healthy hearts.  It's like exchanging war stories.  Showing off wounds.  And I'm the wife of the wounded.    

This senior gentleman was an angel sent to remind me of immense gratitude and heartful love . . . on my birthday.  Thank you, Kind Sir, from the 'Squan Inlet.

A warm thank you to my family & friends, near & far, for your heartfelt birthday wishes . . . August is never an easy month . . . Angels seem to be everywhere.  Love & light.