The lack of internet access at the beach house caused us to skip a day in our blog for the first time. We arrived at the Jersey Shore on Sunday afternoon. Not the Jersey Shore with Snooki. We were visiting my friend Mary’s family during their annual summer vacation in Stone Harbor, NJ. I have known them all my life; they are like a second family to me.
A special attraction this year, in addition to the sea and sand, was a colossal sand sculpture. The Sand Masters, a team of professional sand sculptors, arrived the day before us. Their creation was well underway, and easily visible from the entrance to the beach, by the time John and I arrived with Siobhan and Saoirse.
The sculpture and team of artisans had generated quite a stir. People had gathered and were trying to figure out what it was, and why it was happening. We searched the crowd to locate and greet our friends and their families.
Over the next 24 hours (the sculpture was finished this evening), I found myself engaging with onlookers to explain the situation. Some people got the short answer… it’s for Michael’s birthday. Mary’s brother Michael is turning 46 on the 14th of the month. He is a sand sculpture enthusiast and has lead teams and won awards at competitions. He loves doing this. That’s him in the white shirt.
But that explanation slighted the team of specialists, Rusty, Kirk and Sue, who were working so hard.
So I usually provided a little more detail…Michael has dreamed of working with the Sand Masters since watching their tv shows on the Travel Channel. His sister Ginny and brother-in-law Tim put this Sand Masters event together as a gift for him at their family’s annual vacation in Stone Harbor where they have been coming for over 40 years.
Some people were curious about the design. It represents some of Michael’s interests and pursuits. He has competed in several triathalons… running,
biking, and swimming.
It represents Michael’s work — as an engineer at Boeing, HP, and Microsoft, he has designed airplanes
and X-Box games.
It represents his penchant for wearing “life is good” t-shirts; he has adopted the phrase as a personal motto. It seems to resonate with him; Michael has an innate optimism and positive outlook.
And running through it all, his passion for building sandcastles is represented. Something that he shared today with his many nieces and nephews.
And with some people, who remained engaged, I sometimes found myself providing the rest of the story. In June, Michael was diagnosed with Stage IV metatastic lung cancer. If you are interested in learning more, Michael has started a blog michaelferlan.wordpress.com.
The sand sculpture is the manifestation of many things: the fulfillment of a wish, the celebration of a birthday, the love and generosity of family, the inspiration of a courageous and multi-talented individual, and the brilliant constellation of love and hope generated by that one person.
John and I are very fortunate for the gift of being considered members of this remarkable family. We were delighted to share this experience with Siobhan and Saoirse. We encourage you to share in and expand Michael’s optimism by appreciating each day and each other. Life is good.
live. enjoy. repeat.