Monday, September 3, 2012

Life's a Beach. And Then You Die.

I recently spent a couple of weeks as the guest of friends on the Jersey Shore. Not the Joisey Shore made infamous by the likes of Snooky and her ilk, but the charming, albeit very WASPY, part of the Jersey Shore, with lovely homes and manicured lawns on equally manicured beaches. The little town where we were isn't far from the Victorian quaintness of Cape May, where one goes to catch the Lewes Ferry to Delaware -- at the very southern tip of The Garden State. 
          [I could never understand why New Jersey was referred to as The Garden State, since most of my experience has always been at the airport in Newark. I eventually learned that the whole rest of the state is not only pretty, but very green, once you get out of the shipyards and the industrial effluence around the Meadowlands.] 

One morning, around 6:30 AM, another guest and I decided to take a stroll on the beach, a mere block away. About fifty yards from the entrance to the beach we discovered an eight to ten foot pile of sand about the size of four cars piled up. You couldn't miss it. Protecting this huge pile was an orange snow fence with several buckets piled up nearby. What in the world was all this, we wondered? Over the next couple of days a remarkable sand sculpture began to take shape.  


         It turned out that a triathlete named Mike had recently been told he had inoperable lung cancer, which had, unfortunately, metastasized to his brain and his bones. He's the guy in the white t-shirt and baseball cap working on the sculpture.
         So he decided to invite family and friends to a farewell party of sorts. As a sand sculpture enthusiast, he was able to enlist the aid of other sculptors and create this remarkable homage to his life as an athlete, a video game enthusiast, a potter, a lover of Batman, and his career as a jet engine mechanic. We were told that there would be some sort of a presentation, but it never happened while we were hanging around. 
          Then, astonishingly, the day after the sculpture was finished, it completely disappeared. The buckets, the fence, and the huge mound of sand were all gone. The beach was level again. In fact, it looked like there had never been anything there at all. 
          No doubt a local ordinance required a building permit for a hefty fee in the first place, followed by the required removal of said "structure" within 24 or 48 hours. The beach patrol in vacation towns can be annoying like that. Perhaps it was one of the many tractors that comb through the sand for trash each morning that put an end to this remarkable epitaph for a young man whose life would be ending soon.

But these pictures, along with the dozens more that people were taking, will do a lot to help remember Mike for a long, long time. 

       Nearby there was a sign -- LIFE IS GOOD.

1 comment:

Jon said...

The sand sculpture is truly incredible and the story of Mike is heartbreaking. I'm so glad that people were there to capture the event with photos.

I'll admit it, I was born in New Jersey (New Brunswick)and I still have quite a few relatives scattered around the state. My Mom was also born there and said that it was a lovely state when she was a girl.

My great-grandfather had a large farm near Edison around the turn of the century with lots of orchards and livestock (It wasn't called Edison then - I think it was called Bohnan Town).

I'm rambling as usual......
Anyway, I hope your stay in Joisey was a pleasant one.