Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Last Day of Summer and a Lesson Learned

On the last day of Summer, my entire family was at the beach to celebrate the Labor Day weekend (except for the oldest niece who is lucky enough to be in Brussels). We decided to wake up early and go bike riding on the Ocean City Boardwalk.

My brother Mark had the littlest with him...

and my sister rented a surrey for the big girls...

and Jack was in a low-rider...

We had a beautiful ride and then it was time for the Breakfast of Bicycle Champions...Thrasher's French Fries and Alaska Stand hot dogs...

After eating, it was time for a little competition...All nine kids lined up on one of those water gun games to compete for the prize. When the water hits the target, it makes the balloon blow up. The person whose balloon pops first wins. Playing that water gun game is a family tradition in my house...

It was no suprise that the oldest, Jack, was the winner. The lady asked Jack which prize he wanted

and he said he wanted Meghan, the littlest, to choose.

I was so proud of him for not hesitating...after all these years, it's finally happening. He's growing up.

Despite being the littlest, Meghan picked the biggest prize. You can't even see her in this picture! I think she's under the dog.

The dog is supposed to be Pluto and he's been abducted by aliens...that explains his funky helmet and the fact that he's green. It's a good thing we had an extra bike seat for our new friend. He's a laid-back sort of a fellow...

Then it was time to say good-bye to the beach; to pack up our gear and head back home to get ready for school.

It was a great weekend, the only problem is that these are the only pictures I have from the weekend.

Imagine this...I took my good camera to the beach, I planned the lighting on all four days; I got beautiful shots...sun, sand, surf and kids having the time of their lives...Rainbow beach umbrellas and pyramids in the sand...I had it all...emphasis on HAD.

I was too impatient and tried to view my photos on my son's new computer. Needless to say, they were incompatible; the computer locked up and I lost all of my photos...four days worth of pictures. I honestly felt sick to my stomach and went to bed early because I was so depressed. It was kind of like losing an entire term paper to a power surge and never having saved it?? You know what I mean? Lesson learned: Never hook up your camera to an unknown source.

One of the pictures I will miss most was of a man I don't even know.

He was a softball shortstop playing in a mens' league in the park where I went walking on Sunday morning. As I walked by, he was warming up with his teammates. When he turned his back to throw a ball, my breath caught in my throat.

The number on the back of his jersey was 111. I couldn't believe it. I did a double-take and the number was still there. (If you're new here, you might want to read this post to understand the importance of this story.)

Ok, I didn't think you would believe me if I didn't have the picture. Here I was in the park that my mother loved, staying in the beach place that my mother furnished and I see the number 111 in a place where it's not supposed to be.

All the other players on his team had numbers like 27, 14, 5 and 9. All one or two digit numbers. In fact, I've never seen a jersey with three numbers, have you? He was the ONLY one with three digits and his number was 111.

I didn't know how long I stood there staring at him before I realized I was staring so I moved on. I walked around the big field and went on the other side and took pictures from far away so he wouldn't think I was a stalker.

I couldn't leave the park without asking him about his number. Why 111? I finally got up the nerve to ask and here's how it went...

"Excuse me, sir, can I ask you a question?"


"Would you mind telling me why you have the number 111?"

"Oh...sure. My best friend and I both played softball and we both had the number 11. Last year, he died unexpectedly so I added another 1 to my number. Now, since I combined our numbers, I feel like we're both playing even though he's gone."

"That's really wonderful." Big silence.

"Why do you ask?"

"Oh..." and I told him the story.

And he said, "There's no doubt. That's a sign, you know?"

"Yeah, I know."

"Did you ever think about playing the number? I mean, you might hit the lottery..."

"Yeah, my father says the same thing. " I laugh. "Take care and good luck in your game."

Wonders never cease.


Heather J. said...

oh no! These pictures are gorgeous and I'm sure your others were as well. I've lost photos before as well - it really does make you physically miserable. :(

But how cool about the 111 - and the guy's story! Amazing.

Heather J. said...

oh, I meant to add that I'll be in OC for SunFest this year. I'm SO looking forward to those days at the beach.

Patricia said...

I cried yesterday when I read your 111 story. Today I am sitting here with extreme goosebumps. Whoa, I almost fell out of my chair reading this.

Chris' Greetings from the Shady Grove said...

So many things come to my mind when I read this post. You have me in tears again. You are so lucky to have a mother that loves so deeply that she can still reach you now. What a wonderful guardian angel!

Allison Ann Aller said...

Oh rats about the pictures!
But the ones you have from the bike ride are precious indeed.

I think your mom must be sending you love signals, Susan. How wonderful....

Debra said...

Whoa, your story about the shortstop is awesome & spooky too. Definitely a symbol.

Pictures come and pictures go. You must be the family photographer. Do they know you without a camera in front of your face? *wink*

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