Saturday, September 20, 2008

Out of Time and Memory

In 2002 when my Grandma Dedeaux died, I had the opportunity to speak at her memorial service on the subject of the legacy she left to her grandchildren.  A large part of that legacy existed in the experiences and memories she gave to us by way of her cottage at Virginia Point, Texas on Galveston Bay.  I, along with my siblings, cousins, and friends, spent blissful summers of days there on the bay.  All during my growing up years, that little spot was an island of sunny days and exciting adventures, getting to know each other and the natural world - free of phones and TV's - and free, for the time, of growing-up angst.

We called it Neverland.  And Fairyland.  We called it that because when you drove on the shell road beneath the low-arched railway bridge, it seemed as if you passed immediately from the dreary workaday world to a world free of all cares.  My Grandmother's cottage was the 3rd from the end, so we drove past the other cottages - seeing who was in and who was away - across Crab Creek and to the drive with the sign which announced our arrival - Dos D Dos - and clambered quickly out of the car to the freshening salt winds.  

The cottage was built on stilts and the ceiling was papered with nautical maps of faraway places.  You could dream away simply by staring at the ceiling.  The front porch was screened in and was the best of all places for sleeping to the lull of waves, winds, and seabirds calling.  If you were lucky enough to awake during the night, the moon sprinkling it's soft light over the bay was one of the most enchantingly beautiful sights in all memory.   Hung between the stilts underneath the cottage were hammocks where the breezes would gently rock you to sleep.

We had lots of great adventures there, too.  In addition to the everyday adventures that revolved around fishing, swimming, and running on the rickety pier, we had the most deliciously scary storms.  Storms that swayed our little cottage-on-stilts and brought water spouts, dead men's boats, and the flotsam and jetsam that makes beachcombing fun.  In fact, during our beachcombing excursions we would come across the barest remains of the resorts and railroads that the 1900 and 1915 storms blew away.  It was a portent reminder of the brute strength of nature and, unfortunately, the silent prophecy of the future.

Last Friday, September 19th, the bay cottage along with all of Virginia Point, was swept out of time and space by Hurricane Ike.  Viewing the news coverage of the impending hurricane, I doubted that our little paradise could survive, but I always hoped.  Hope, however, was this time in vain.  It's been several years since I drove my children under the railway bridge and up to the drive behind the cottage, but the loss I feel is palpable.  I cannot begin to imagine the loss that the current residents of Virginia Point, Bolivar, Gilchrist, Galveston and more are feeling today. May God draw them to Himself and comfort them only as He can.  

Our little Neverland is no more, gone from time, but not from memory.  At least not yet.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful memory; I enjoyed reading it and remembering another time......AA

Paula said...

Very well recorded thoughts of those of us pondering the loss of that magical place. One other nighttime porch memory...waking to hear the night trains ramble across the bridge. A lonesome, disconcerting sound, yet at the same time comforting. I can close my eyes and still hear that, the wind, the waves...and remember feeling veeeery lucky if I go to sleep in the "real bed" at the end of the porch! Thanks for writing this.

Linda said...

Oh, yes - I'll never forget that, either. And, yes, the bed at the end was the best! I don't think I've ever slept better!

Linda said...

Oh, yes - I'll never forget that, either. And, yes, the bed at the end was the best! I don't think I've ever slept better!