Sometimes high expectations are doomed by real life. Like watching your grown daughters become friends, and grandchildren become brothers, in the space of half a day.
And I became the queen of Sheba.
We met at “Hurricane House” in Edisto (or Edisto Beach or Edisto Island – we never were sure of the municipal parameters). Second floor, of course. It seems that everything in Edisto is built to allow freaky high tides and hurricanes the right of way.
What a wonderful forest of pilings, crisscrossing each other, reached by an elaborate trim of white stairways and sundeck rails that look, from a little distance, like ruffles on a pleated dress. And in what must have been a planning commission coup, the only external paint is in muted “natural colors,” sea-gray, soft blues, off-white, dusty sand.
I liked the harmony, the weathered look.
The house was pristine, just loaded with wonderful pottery decorated by all things palm. Palm-glazed plates, mugs, towels, storage containers, rugs – yes, almost everything in the house was for sale, prices tastefully offered in a notebook in a drawer rather than sticky notes stuck on the bottom of items.
But my mission today was to let you know how it went with the girls and the grandsons under the same roof. In a word: splendidly. Most of the inevitable sibling flair-ups were perfectly justified, in their eyes, and could be worked out quickly by one word from their mother. “Attitude, gentlemen,” she snapped, and I was left to try to sort out which one was the aggrieved brother.
U.J., the nearly-7-year-old, launched a case of crocodile tears, complete with chest-deep sobs. Apparently he was taken aback by something Dave said or scolded him about.
“What’s your problem,” someone asked him after the first volley, and U.J. paused long enough to blurt, “He hurted my feelings!” When we laughed and told him hurt feelings never killed anybody, he got well in a jiffy.
For the most part, he and Samuel, 10, were happy. What’s not to love about sea and sand and seafood? It was too cold for anyone to want to go into the water, although, of course, the sand was slippery and one could fall in accidentally. One didn’t last another 10 minutes on that breezy porch, wearing a wet T-shirt.
But my plan was to submit myself to whatever royal indulgence I could demand. The boys catered to me briefly and promised to be forever by my side. It’s too soon to know if their vows would be carried out. Forever is quite a long time. Their strong legs carried most of my stuff up to the apartment when we arrived and took it down when we left.
Beautiful as the stairway and new deck are, 25 steps are 25 steps. Going down was even worse. The steps naturally lie crossways to the risers and it’s impossible to see which straight line is at the edge.
I read some, but that was mostly a matter of being overwhelmed with loaded bookshelves in several rooms, plus a few DVDs or videotapes. Mary had bought me a couple of movies, including “Quartet” which we watched, “Murder at 1600,” and “Cookie’s Fortune” that we enjoyed despite the violence.
The nicest aspect of a vacation, for me, was doing nothing, nothing at all. “Can I help with dinner, girls?” “No, Mom, but would you like a cup of tea?” Breakfast was prepared for me and served to me and cleaned up afterwards, for me.
And all I had to do was take a shower every day or two, and eat, and sleep. And welcome any little boys that needed to cuddle.
[Sallie Satterthwaite of Peachtree City has been writing for The Citizen since our first issue Feb. 10, 1993. Before that she had served as a city councilwoman and as a volunteer emergency medical technician. She is the only columnist we know who has a fire station named for her. Her email is SallieS@Juno.com.]