Over the weekend, my parents came out to River Camp. My 91-year-old grandmother lives with them, as well as a dog who suffers from mental illness—sociopathy, I think. I convinced them to put the dog in a kennel for the weekend (when my dad picked him up, the lady said "Cooper did fine, but he's a little wild, isn't he? Especially around food") and my brother and sister-in-law stayed at the house so Nanny wouldn't fall down the stairs or burn down the house, both of which she's accidentally almost done. Well, I guess their presence wouldn't prevent either of those things necessarily, but at least someone would be there to call 911.
I could tell they both needed a getaway. Mom had lately become what Noah calls "Sharanoid," a portmanteau that perfectly captures her specific type of worrying: a belief, based loosely on lived experience, that the worst is bound to happen, and probably right after you say or do anything that would suggest you're not worried about it. Dad had lately lost some weight. So they were ripe for the relaxing.
I honestly haven't seen them so unclenched in I don't know how long. After that first time walking out onto the pier, Mom didn't need to hold my hand anymore. Seems she conquered her fear of the calf-deep water, at least enough that she could walk down the pier without shuffle-stepping, arms slightly splayed out for balance.
Dad, on the other hand, has no fear of water. He grew up in Los Angeles, and so spent a lot of time at the beach and in the ocean. When we arrived on Cape Lookout, Dad dawdled behind until he found a shark's tooth, then went straight for the water. He said several times it'd been 23 years since he'd been in the ocean. He waded in, jumped through waves (got laid out by a couple as well—"One knocked out my contact lens!" he exclaimed happily), then bobbed around in the distance like a cork for the majority of our time on the island.
We had delicious local seafood, spent some time fishing off the pier; walked briskly from shade patch to shade patch in the nearby town, Oriental; then hung around a lovely little park with a tennis court until we couldn't stand the heat anymore.
When they left after lunch on Monday, it was hard to believe we still had five more days here at the river. Noah and I have never taken such a long trip away from the daily routines of home. With two full days left, three more sleeps, we're starting to feel a little bit adrift, I think. Though we have plans for another Crystal Coast beach trip and aquarium visit tomorrow.
I wish my parents could've stayed a bit longer. Not just to break up the time, give us the purpose one feels when showing a newcomer around, but because it's been a long time since I've seen them so happy and carefree.