My wife’s family has been coming to Ogunquit, Maine for more than two decades, and every year they stay in the same cottage at the same resort. The town’s website describes its’ name and allure:
According to legend, Ogunquit (pronounced /o-gun-quit/) was named by the Abenaki tribe, because the word means “beautiful place by the sea”. Those of us who are fortunate to live, work or play here agree with this ancient assessment. We all have different reasons for finding Ogunquit beautiful – some love the salty-sweet scent of beach roses on sea breezes wafting along the Marginal Way walking path, some enjoy playing tag with the lapping incoming tide as the sand caresses their bare feet, while others enjoy the nostalgic village feel of strolling among quaint buildings, coves, and pedestrian bridges throughout town.
I’d started writing a longer post about my love of Ogunquit, and I may still do that at some point, but I thought I’d share something that I’m feeling going into this year’s trip.
Over the years, we’ve noticed that sometimes stores and restaurants that we’d loved had closed in the intervening years between trips. Collectively, we’d go through a sort of grieving process – lamenting a restaurant or store’s closing, sharing the memories we had of said establishment, maybe visiting the one that had replaced it, and commenting on how much things had changed.
Recently, my father-in-law was down in Grapevine staying with us and mentioned that our favorite breakfast place, Amore Breakfast, had moved. I thought their last location was great, so I pulled up their website to see where they’d relocated to.
There are a handful of restaurants that I’d consider staples of Ogunquit, places that we visited every year and who embodied parts of vacation for me. Amore was one of those spots, and the news that they’d closed hit me harder than I expected.
First trip up without Sandy
Thinking about Amore’s closing, makes me think of another, more profound, loss we’ll be experiencing during our trip this year. For those that don’t know, my mother-in-law, Sandy, lost a hard-fought battle with breast cancer last December.
When we were in Ogunquit last year, Sandy was so excited to have the whole family together, including her newest grandchild and her son’s girlfiend. When we return this year, our joy at being in one of our favorite places in the world will be tempered by the loss of a dear family member.
So many things that we do during the week are wrapped up in memories of Sandy:
- Eating breakfast at the table in the cottage where she’d sit with her newspaper (and later her iPad) and wake up in the morning.
- Swimming in the pool where she loved spending time with her grandkids. Just the other day, we were watching a video of our then one year old son falling off the side of the pool into Harmonie’s arms and hearing Sandy’s laugh off-camera was a bit of a gut punch.
- Walking along the Marginal Way where she loved to sit on the benches and soak up the view of the ocean. Without fail, on our last morning in Ogunquit, the last place she’d visit was the Marginal Way. Sometimes we were even sitting in the car waiting for her!
- Climbing down to one of the little beaches that appeared during low tide where she’d bring a folding chair and sit and read a book for hours during the day.
- Purchasing Christmas ornaments for the kids, a tradition Harmonie’s parents started for her and her brother when they were little.
- Visiting some of our favorite restaurants where we enjoyed hours of laughter and memories. Our family tradition is for every person to have one night where they pick which restaurant we’d go to. Many of us have a favorite that we’ll always pick.
- Playing miniature golf where the idea of letting the kids win was a foreign concept; this family is cutthroat!
As we return to Ogunquit this year, Sandy’s spirit will be ever-present during the week, and I am forever grateful for the years of memories that will be with us this year as we open a new chapter of our family vacation.