Anger is born; when disillusionment comes from stolen dreams.
A tale of love; a tale of dreams.
Have you ever been somewhere distant and away from home, yet it felt like home? You know, perhaps it’s that little place that you visited on vacation and everything about it said “You belong here”. Well I have, and for the last thirteen years I have tried everything on God’s green earth to get my wife and me moved permanently to this magical place, yet it has all been to no avail.
As stories begin, this one began back in 1994 when my wife’s father died suddenly while watching the Super Bowl on television. We lived right across the street from both he and my wife’s mother and about midway of the third quarter we heard my mother-in-law screaming for help in the middle of the street. Her words were fast and almost unintelligible, but I gathered that there was something wrong with Lee (my father-in-law). I dashed across the street with my wife in tow and when we arrived I found Lee slumped in his recliner. The football game was blaring on the TV and both my wife and her mother were screaming above it. I did everything I could to resuscitate him, but it was of no use…he was gone, he was 71.
Trying now to restore order, I sent them both into the back room. This lasted all of perhaps thirty seconds and then my wife appeared once again by my side. My concern for Lee was now turned at once to my wife who had also been ill for sometime. I then looked at the ashen face of my father-in-law as he lay on the floor where I had placed him. I then looked at my wife. Though I have dealt with separation through death many times before, this time something changed within my very soul. I was so overcome with total, unfathomable empathy for my grieving wife that I vowed before God that I would do everything in my power to give my wife the desires of her heart lest she too leave with dreams unfulfilled. My quest had begun and our journey was to start anew.
It wasn’t long after Lee’s death that I began to buy my wife things I really could not afford in an effort to bring her pleasure and lift her from this dark cloud of despair. It was important that I lift her spirits and bring about joy once again. It was important to me and very important for her health. I feared for her on a daily basis that I would lose her and I still have these fears today. Now some may think that my thoughts surrounding this are irrational and misguided and that you can’t buy happiness.
However if you knew Leah, the Leah I know you would begin to understand my impulses and desires to bring her joy. Her nature is so sweet and one of childlike innocence that even amidst a worsening medical condition she could always, be it by a wink or a smile, bring soft pleasure to my soul. It was this tender, infectious personality that caused me so many years ago to fall helplessly in love with Leah. How could I not do everything in my power to bring happiness her way?
As the cold days of February waned and the March winds blew in their warming change, I thought that a trip somewhere would lift her spirits and brighten our lives. This was 1994 and three years before our first computer, therefore I could not pull up map quest or Google vacation spots. So I pulled out my trusty (never can get folded back correctly map) and began to look for a place to take my still grieving wife. I knew she liked the ocean as I did and I thought that a trip to the beach would be great. I thought that perhaps a ride down to Florida would be nice, but with our car not being in the best of mechanical condition, (It was a Junker) I thought we ought to stay close to home.
I thought about Myrtle Beach, but wrote it off about as quickly as I thought it. I knew Charleston pretty well, but with Hurricane Hugo’s giving a direct hit a few years back, I wasn’t sure that I would find it the same. Then my eyes shifted slightly south and I saw Savannah, Georgia on the map. Hmm I thought, Savannah would be a nice diversion and it would surly bring her pleasure that in my loving opinion she so richly deserved. So Savannah it would be and I set about to arrange time off from work, pack a few things and then SURPRISE…we off to Savannah. What I did not know at the time was that Savannah would surprise us both weave its spell and we would forever be hers in our hearts.
This began our first journey down, one that has been repeated too many times to recount. It was one of exquisite pleasure and the further down the southern back roads we traveled; the more I began to see the cloud of darkness lift from Leah’s spirit. We slipped through small towns like Luray, Williston and Allendale on a smile and a giggle. We walked hand and hand through the cotton fields and kissed beneath moss draped trees. Life seemed to make sense once more and when we crossed the savannah river into Georgia, something inside said” Welcome Home”. I couldn’t explain it then, nor can I today. There is just something about Savannah that took our breath away.
I remember us spending most of the day sitting in the park on one of the squares. Leah couldn’t walk very far back then, so sitting was a preferable way to spend our time. We lunched at “Morrison’s” right off Bull and then went to Telfair to soak up the art. It was delightful, but it was getting late and we had no place as of yet to lay our head. We got back in the car and twisted and turned and ended up on Victory. It was there I saw the sign that read Tybee Island. An island I thought, hmmm, a perfect spot to be by the sea... that is where we will get a room. Driving east we headed for a place unknown. We didn’t even know if they would have a motel, but we were game and onward we pressed. We crossed beautiful expanses of marsh and the smell of salt was in the air. We soon arrived On Tybee to find its streets mostly deserted save a few cars here and there. We saw wonderful old beach houses on both the left and the right and then we saw a few motels. Leah looked at me then and asked” Is this a beach, where are all the people”?
This was mind you before the book “Midnight in the garden of good and evil”; it was before the Olympics, it was perfect. No crowds to speak of, just peace and quiet. We drove all the way to the end of the island and ended up staying at the “Ocean Plaza” It wasn’t the best hotel that I had ever stayed at, but the price was really good for an ocean view, however all that would soon change. I don’t know what happened and I can’t really say when it happened, but soon the rates were becoming outrageously high even in the off season. Where I was once able to take Leah down four or five times a year, it rapidly became two and then one. Now we are lucky to even get in one.
Now don’t take this wrong, I am all for change, but when change starts out pricing the average family and the people being catered to are the very rich, it brings about a certain sadness to my heart. When you have movie stars and rock stars like Sandra Bullock and John Cougar who also fall in love with Tybee, and then move there, then change is not always good. Folks like this can afford to stay at any high class resort of their choosing. I guess what I am saying is that I feel as if our dream has been stolen right before our eyes. Truly, I am happy that the likes of Sandra and John find this island as much a pleasure as I do, but Tybee… please, don’t out price the average family because of your success.
Now for those of you who have taken the time to read this far, I want to say thanks for listening to my feeble plea. I still try to give Leah everything and I still dream of the day that I can move her down to Tybee, but as the years continue to move on, time has become more critical than ever before. Though Leah’s health has improved a great deal over her health of just a few years back, there are other issues that have cropped up recently in regards to the same subject.
I’ve worked hard all my life and I have given. I have tried to sell my little poetry books, I have tried to sell my art. I have worked six and seven days a week for years. Yet I am further away from giving Leah the ultimate dream of living on Tybee than I ever was. I am exhausted; I am worn and almost broken. I love beyond reason, and I give of my all. I still believe in God, therefore no matter how dark the night, the light of my hope will never dim. I promised Leah, and somehow love will make the way.
© 2007 J. Allen Wilson