My mother had three passions in life: family, friends and the Jersey Shore. As family and friends, you knew my mother. She cared for each of you; which is why last Friday I helped her call as many of you as she could; sadly not all. Even though it was difficult, she wanted to say goodbye. She wanted you to know what you meant to her. We had hoped that there would be more time for more calls. Know that if you are here today, whether you spoke to her recently or not, you were important to her and you were loved…because she would NOT have had anyone here today who did not feel that way themselves; whether you know it or not.
Her third passion was this stretch of land and the bay that surrounds it on one side and the ocean on the other. This was her place; her heart and probably the thing she loved most. (Notice I said thing and NOT person.) She loved this place even before she had a home here; there was something intangible that called her spirit and was why she HAD to be here. It wasn’t just the ocean, where at low tide she loved to float in the little “pool” that formed between the sand bar and the shoreline, letting the water push her north or south, depending on the wind. It wasn’t just the warm sand where she could sit in her beach chair with a big floppy hat and chat with friends. It wasn’t just crewing for F C back in the 1970s on his Lightning and then when that was passé, his Sanderling just about every Saturday in the summer for the BBYRA. It wasn’t just racing on Sundays in a Sunfish (with me as her reluctant crew member back when you had to have one) at NBYC. It wasn’t just about taking registrations and monitoring finishes at NBYC on Sundays. It was about all these things and more.
There were so many things that she loved about this place and the people here. You all knew my mom well, but I’m guessing there are a few things that you might not know. So I’d like to share some with you:
When she was young she did spend many summers at the Jersey shore, but mostly in Monmouth County. Her parents often stayed in Avon or Spring Lake. The long gone Essex and Sussex hotel was one of her favorites and before it was torn down she, along with my grandmother, would go visit it.
She and her parents also spent time on Cape Cod. This is probably where she first found her love of sailing. It is also where, during rainy days, she discovered cranberry glass. She and her mother would shop the antique stores when going to the beach was not possible. They didn’t purchase much, but what they did collect was cherished.
Her uncle, was one of the first people to build a house on South Court. I believe he was an early member of the yacht club. As a family we did spend some time there before he and his wife moved to California.
When I was younger, we spent our summer vacation in Cape Cod. We would stay at the Melrose Inn in Harwichport. There was beach access and a pool, which as a toddler I think I loved more than the sandy beach.
We started renting in N B in the summer of 1972. That was the summer that my mother was pregnant with my brother John and she did not want to be far from home. For that first year we only rented for a week. Maybe two? Just about every year we stayed a little longer.
We always rented in NB and predominantly in the area of 7th avenue. We rented 3 different houses on Broad, 2 on Lake court, 1 on 4th, 1 on Norman Court and finally one just two doors down from the entrance to the beach on 7th Avenue. We rented the house on 7th for the entire summer and my mother ended up purchasing a dryer and having it installed because we spent so much time there.
My parents joined the NBYC in 1979. My mother and father each owned their own Sunfish and each sailed in the Sunday races. At the time, a crew was required so my brother sailed with my dad and I sailed with my mom. We wore the regulation life vests which were more of a hindrance than a help when the boat overturned. It is easy enough to right a sunfish, but do you know how hard it is to pull yourself back in with a life vest? It’s keeping you afloat, but making it hard to grab onto something to pull yourself in. Having a committee boat come by and stare at you while this is all going on doesn’t make it any easier either.
My mother purchased the house on Lake Court in 1995. The wallpaper in two of the three bathrooms was indescribably ugly. Day-Glo psychedelic 1960s era flowers. If you walked in there and weren’t feeling well, just looking at the paper would make you vomit. She worked with her dear friend Isolde on both to strip them of the atrocious paper. It was a long, hard project, but they pulled it off thankfully. Unfortunately, it was not done in time for my wedding in 1996, so somewhere there a photos of us preparing for the day with the ugly wallpaper in the background. I was married at the NBYC on a Friday evening as the sun went down over Barnegat Bay. There were periods of rain that day (and a mess on the Garden State Parkway), but the sun was out when Steve and I were married. It was a lovely party and despite what you may remember, there was no wedding cake. There were, however, several people, including my late brother John, who went skinny dipping in a neighbor’s pool late that night after the reception.
My mother instilled her love of the island in my son. He was only a few weeks old when I first brought him down. I can remember waking up in the middle of the night to feed him and finding that my mother was already up and taking care of it, which meant I could get some much needed sleep. She bought an inflatable pool for him to play in on her back deck. She filled it with all sorts of water toys. He learned to walk at her house (sort of) She and my father would have James stay with them for 2 weeks over the summer where he would spend days at marine science camp. My mother was so proud that he knew all about horseshoe crabs and giant squid. They would catch crabs in the lagoon and release them, having “crab races” (too often the poor crabs couldn’t figure out how to get back into the water, so James would have to prod them along until they plopped back in.) They would always take him out to dinner at the LYC; she instilled in him a classic style and taught him impeccable manners that impressed all her friends there. After he was done eating he could go play on the pirate ship that was there. Perhaps she was disappointed that he showed no interest in sailing, but she did expose him to the many social aspects of both the NB and L Yacht clubs; something he definitely enjoyed.
Finally, during her last days, we all hoped she could come home. It was her intent to return to the Sunday races at NBYC. I know it was a lot of work to run those races and she would often get frustrated, but she wanted to be there AND she wanted to get my dad there as well. If she couldn’t get there, she wanted to be at home on her deck overlooking the lagoon. She wanted to sit in the sun and be warm. She wanted to see the ducks and the swans. She wanted to see the seagulls dive for the fish. She wanted to wave at the kayakers and paddle boarders as they went by. These were the simple pleasures that she loved and longed for.
My mom did not make it back to the island that she loved, but her spirit will live on there. It will live on each time I see a sun rise over the Atlantic, or a sunset over Barnegat Bay. Her spirit will be there whenever the first boat crosses the finish line by barrel x on Sunday afternoons. When the swans float by in the spring, the ducks in the summer or what she called the “divy ducks” swoop below the cold surface of the lagoon in fall and winter, she will be here. And when you experience these moments, I hope you remember her and she in her love of this land.