Little Hansie

During the late forties, my family was one of the lucky ones who usually took a vacation to the beach every summer. We had several places in New Jersey where we went for a week or two to swim, go to the boardwalk and ride bicycles. Our favorite place at that time was Wildwood-by-the-Sea. We would rent a wood-frame duplex with two bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room about two or three blocks from the ocean. It wasn’t fancy, but my sister, Gretchen, and I thought it was paradise.

Mother on the boardwalk

Almost every day, we packed up a picnic basket and grabbed the towels, beach blanket, sand buckets and umbrella and hiked a few blocks to the beach. We’d spend most of the day at the beach, enjoying swimming and building sand castles and eating delicious (but sandy) ham sandwiches until we went home for naps in the afternoon. Even our parents took naps, they were so exhausted from taking care of us.

We also usually took a boat into the ocean to go deep sea fishing. My sister and I were too young at first to be trusted with a hook and line when other people were around, but as we grew older we were also allowed to fish.

Summer vacation was a wonderful time for us, and I have dozens of sweet memories of it. But my favorite memory of all is playing “little Hansie.”

This game was played at the beach in the shallow water. My father’s name was Hans Beyerl and he had come to the United States from Germany when he was 19 years old. He still had his German accent. He would take us into the water and he would kneel down and pretend he was our little boy.

My sister and I would hold his hands and when a wave came we would try to help him “jump” the wave. He’d make it over the first few waves, but sometimes he’d let the waves smack him right in the face and we’d squeal and worry he would drown. Then a “big one” would come along and he would go under the water like he was drowning and we would squeal and try to help him up.

“Little Hansie’s drowning,” we would scream and try as hard as we could to lift him up. Sometimes he would come up and sometimes he wouldn’t. Then we would squeal even louder and try harder to lift him up, meanwhile laughing and giggleing, as only children can.

He would always come up drenched in water and looking like he was going to drown at any minute. We would help him up and help him brush off the water, trying to care for little Hansie.

father on the boardwalk

I remember the joy of playing this game, perhaps better than anything else from my childhood. I’m sure we squealed enough to bother a few people trying to relax, but we had such a good time I don’t think anyone was upset about it. And my poor father. We always wondered how he withstood getting salt water all over his face all the time, but he didn’t seem to care. I think he loved this game too!

Do you remember any special games you played at the beach?

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The Vat of Words

It takes a really long time to write a book.

When you start, you think you’ll just write down a few things about the subject, put them in an outline and write a chapter a week until you get it all down. But then, about a third of the way through the project you start to realize it’s going to be a lot harder to write this thing than you thought. At first your ideas were so simple and orderly, but suddenly there are conflicting ideas and many more possibilities than you first thought.

It’s like jumping into a big vat of words. You swim around in the words for awhile, but you don’t know how to get out. There’s only one thing to do: realize it’s going to take a really long time to write your book, and settle in for the long haul. You have to learn to swim in the big vat of words. You’re a writer.

For years your friends have been asking you if you finished your book, and the answer has always been no, because it takes a really long time to write a book.

Finally you begin to get to the end of your planned book. Just a few more chapters to go. However, when you start to tie up the loose ends, there are so many that it’s hard to sort them out. My question is this: how can a few more chapters take so long to write? Is it possible that the end of the book is harder to write than the beginning? Is it even possible to know when it’s done?

Well, I finally finished my first draft of my memoir. I feel like I have done something very special because I finished my book. I am finally coming up for air, climbing out of the big vat of words. Wow there’s life out there! There are people walking around doing things. Yes! I feel like I have accomplished a good thing. I’ve written a book. Whether or not anyone reads it is another story entirely. Or would that be another book?

 

Faith and Spirituality Beneficial in Treatment

NAMI | Faith and Spirituality Beneficial in Treatment, Study Finds.

Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed

I don’t think there’s anything that demonstrates love better than bringing Mom breakfast in bed.

I remember a lot of breakfasts in bed for Mother’s day. I have two daughters, both of whom did not inherit my innate dislike of the kitchen and proved to be good cooks. I remember the first breakfast that my oldest daughter fixed for me. I think she was four. She actually was able to fix a reasonable facsimile of breakfast. I was so excited when she came rattling in with a tray filled with coffee, and scrambled eggs and toast. The coffee was lukewarm, the eggs were runny and toast was cold, but my heart was warmed to the point of tears. She went on to study cooking, which is still one of her strong points.

My younger daughter fixed me breakfast in bed also. When she was about five she brought me orange juice, coffee and pancakes. So much love was brought to me that morning. She climbed in bed with me and we cuddled as she helped me eat the food. What a sweet memory.

However, there’s something about the trip from the kitchen to the bedroom that seems to take a long, long time, because the well-meaning breakfast is often lukewarm by the time I taste it. Maybe it just takes me a long time to wake up and prepare to eat, or perhaps there is a mathematical formula:

Complexity of menu x age of child + amount of love needed ÷ distance to bedroom = warmth of breakfast. Do you think Martha Stewart knows the answer?

Both my daughters are grown now and live at the other end of the United States, so I’m pretty sure they won’t be bringing me breakfast in bed. But I know they are thinking of me and by Mother’s Day I’ll have a card, a call or a gift from both of them. I can’t imagine greater love than they have given me.

Have your children given you a special breakfast on Mother’s Day?

Other Multiples

If you know someone with multiple personalities, please tell them about my blog. I would like to connect with them