When I was about seven years old I remember making sandcastles at the beach with my father. It was a warm breezy day in the summer and mom had packed a delicious lunch for us that I recall being so excited for.
Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich for me, a Ham sandwich with Pepper Jack Cheese for mom, and dad’s favorite; something called a Reuben with this yucky sour stuff on it.
Mom had a melancholy glow about the preparation that I didn’t quite understand; this beach day was going to be fantastic! I chalked it up to her being worried it would be too chilly of a day for such an adventure; she did pack an extra bag with coats just in case the weather turned.
As I made my way out to where the tide just barely met the dry sand, taunting it with its slow retract, my father hand in hand, I could feel the butterflies in my belly swell; we were going to build one epic sandcastle.
I grabbed my bucket and shovel and quickly began filling it up. I made sure everything was tight and compact just as my father had taught me, I knew he would be so proud of my first drop.
Perfect, I thought to myself. My father beamed in the sunlight with each drop of the bucket. This was definitely my best work yet.
I looked back at my mother who was laying down the blanket and basket methodically and setting up the lunch. I couldn’t wait for her to see our masterpiece once it was finished. It was our best work yet!
By the time I had reached the part where I would make the moat surrounding the castle, digging deeply so the water wouldn’t harm anything, I heard my mother scream.
I quickly turned around, expecting her to be chasing off some pesky seagulls trying to grab our food, only to be met with her frantic eyes staring at our sandcastle as she ran towards us.
I looked down confused, inspecting the castle for any flaws that would have made her so angry and couldn’t find any. I saw a speck of seaweed next to me and propped it up onto some driftwood for the flag at the very top.
Yes, this was it, I didn’t mark our castle’s territory. My mother always paid close attention to detail. I smiled as it waved.
When my mother finally reached us, tears in her eyes as she dropped to her knees sobbing, she asked me one question.
Her tears soaked our castle as the tide started slowly drifting closer and closer. The moat beginning to fill with both salty solutions as I watched.
The last thing I remember was my mother picking me up, along with the empty vase that once held my father, while she carried me back to the blanket.
I will say though, dad always did make the best sandcastles. This time was no different.