Castles in the Sand

sand-sculptorMama Edna worked hard around the house, and kept us clean and well taken-care of, so I can’t complain about that, but she’d like to drive us crazy with her hymn-singing, day and night, until we knew all the words to the songs she sang whether we wanted to or not.  I for sure did not want to.

First of all, Mama Edna wasn’t my real mother.  Daddy said my real mother died having me, and I should be thankful Mama Edna came along to be our new Mama.  Daniel and Raymond, my older brothers, said Daddy and Mama Edna had a wedding and everything, but I was too young to remember.  I just know I wanted the same Mama as Daniel and Raymond had.

Summers spent on the beach on Lake Michigan were a break from her constant singing.  We’d build castles with wet sand, using little pails, tin cups, and different colored aluminum water glasses. We dug moats around the castles, and it was fun watching the water come up into those moats.

Mama Edna loved the beach.  She’d look toward the horizon with her binoculars, and sometimes she’d see a merchant ship out there.  She’d call out grandly “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.”

One time she came out to check on us, and she brought out little plastic flags and stuck them in the peaks of our castle. She stood up and started singing “Love is the flag flown high on the castle of my heart for the King is in residence there.”

I kicked the castle to pieces and stomped off. I was sure our real mother would let us play without pestering us. Of course I knew when the tide came in it would wash my castle away, but I didn’t mind.  In fact, the nice smooth sand called me to start over new.

The reason I just stomped off without kicking sand at Mama Edna and screaming at her was I had made the mistake of doing it once and Daddy saw it. He grabbed me by my arm and swung me over so he could beat my butt.  “That didn’t hurt,” I told him.  “I’m only crying because I’m mad.”  Not smart.  He bent me over his knee, “Now you’re going to cry until you’re sorry.”  Of course by then I was bawling and snot was running and I just wanted to go in the cottage and crawl in bed.  No such luck.

He picked me up—I was like five years old then—and handed me to Mama Edna with instructions.  “You rock this kid until he cries the fool out of himself and goes to sleep.”

Which she did. Singing! Talk about adding insult to injury.

Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!

Now here I am, Captain of a cruise ship on the great waters of the Caribbean Sea, anywhere from 1200 to 4100 fathoms deep.  Consider those billows can rock this 60,000 ton vessel and then reflect on the fathomless billows of God’s love sweeping over my soul—yes, wonderful wonderful peace!

Mama Edna is in Heaven now, I’m sure of it.  Is she watching over me?  I’m not sure how Heaven works, but I like to think of the woman who gave me birth arm and arm with the woman who loved me all my life. They are at the feet of Jesus, and trust me, they are singing.

Elaine Soerens

October 2016

623 words


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