This morning, Sandy got personal.
I spent many summers down the Jersey shore. My mother would ship me off to Sea Isle City to live with my grandparents for a few weeks in the summer. Our evenings were spent eating dinner, followed by saying the Rosary. Baba and Nana would alternate prayers, starting with the Apostle’s Creed, then the Our Father, three Hail Marys, followed by the Glory Be prayer, then the decades. Black beads with silver links wrapped around wrinkled age-spotted hands. Comfort in the ritual.
After the Rosary, we settled in to watch TV with a bowl of ice cream before bed. “Sea Hunt” was a Baba favorite. I would then lay in bed, listening to their conversation. It was years before I realized that their discussions about the problems with the Wolfs next door had to do with their neighbors and not some gray beasts I could never seem to find during our walks to the beach each day.
The beach. I spent hours, days, playing on the beach. Sand castles and swimming. Sand-encrusted italian hoagies washed down with cold Coca-Colas. Lollie the collie, the neighborhood dog who drifted from house to house, owned by no one and everyone, would join us on our beach blanket. Sometimes, Baba and I would walk along the shore. He would point out interesting sites, including the empty lots and damaged boardwalks left from the fury of Hurricanes Donna and Esther.
After Hurricane Sandy hit, I surfed the net looking for stories. I knew my beloved Jersey Shore was hit hard. News was spotty Tuesday and Wednesday, as power outages delayed reporters’ ability to provide pictures. Then, this morning, as I visited my old hometown paper, I was shocked to see a picture of my cousin, Donna, being hugged by President Obama.
Donna extended the childhood dream life of living on the Jersey shore into a lifelong avocation. She owns a marina in Brigantine, just across the bridge from Sea Isle City. Donna’s Facebook profile is filled with pictures of her and colleagues hauling big fish from deep sea charters, and sunny days sitting in the stern of boats cruising the Atlantic. She lives a happy, joyful life living on the Jersey shore.
All devastated. When you click on the link to the picture of President Obama and Donna, you can see the pain etched into her face. Her Facebook post this morning at 4 am said, “I can’t stop crying.” Donna is a strong woman. Hurricane Sandy kicked her ass. Donna does not need a hand out. She needs a hand up.