The beach house had been in my family for years. My Grandma had always dreamed of living on the ocean. We’ve been taught that our bodies are 70% water. My Grandma said she believed this because she felt the spirit of the ocean dwelled inside her and the crashing waves against the shore pounded out the rhythm of her heart. My Grandpa loved her more than anything, and although he was actually the one to make her heart pound, he wanted to do everything in his power to make her dreams come true. They got married after he returned from the war. He found a part time job in real estate that eventually turned into a career. When the opportunity finally presented itself, he snatched up a little piece of land right on the beach in the city of San Clemente. He built them a beautiful little home on that land with what money they had left. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was perfect for them. They called it home for the next 60 years.
That little beach house saw many changes over the years. Three girls were born and raised there and with each new baby came a new addition to the house. For their 25th wedding anniversary they built a state of the art kitchen where they could explore all their culinary curiosities. It was pretty elaborate for the 70’s. A few years after that they gutted the upstairs completely to create a huge vaulted ceiling for the main foyer and living room. By then all three girls had moved out, were married, and starting to have children of their own. Brand new bedrooms were constructed in yet another addition so the girls and their families could come home to visit anytime they wanted. And they did. Every summer the whole family came together for a few weeks. For their 50th anniversary they had a new master suite built complete with a master bathroom. It featured a whirlpool tub big enough for four with a picture window overlooking the ocean and shoreline. It was my Grandma’s favorite spot in the house. And while she joked that it took her 50 years of putting up with Grandpa to get it, we all knew she was proud of the house and proud of the life that her and Grandpa had made.
When the upkeep became difficult for them to handle alone they hired help. A gardener came a few times a week to help my Grandpa with the property and a maid helped my Grandma with cleaning and laundry. Grandma refused to have anyone cook for her, but they did take turns running errands or driving them into town. This arrangement worked quite well for a while. About five years ago, it became clear that they needed more help than a gardener and maid could provide. They moved into an independent living community a few miles away and their three daughters took over the beach house.
We continued gathering together at the beach house every summer. Not everyone could make it every single time, but the effort was made. It got more difficult as us kids grew older. School, sports, jobs, and life in general got in the way. Three weeks turned into two, then two into only one. Some family members only stopped by for a few days. When our family wasn’t staying there, we rented it out. My mother and her sisters managed the rental of the property. The gardener and maid had stayed on after my Grandparents left. They were basically the on sight managers and very heavily trusted by my family. Other staff was brought on as well to assist the guests. Again, this new arrangement worked quite well the past few years and even provided some extra income which the families split. But it was all coming to an end.
This would be the last year the beach house was part of our family. It was becoming too much work for my Mom and Aunts to manage as a rental property. My Mom was busy running her own Bed and Breakfast back in Lemon Cove and my Dad was a pilot always on the go. My Aunt and Uncle were looking to retire early to Arizona or Florida. My other Aunt and Uncle already lived up in Northern California and it was too hard for them to manage long distance. So they had hired a general contractor to fix the place up. He was to give it a complete facelift and modernize everything from appliances to drapes. It was decided that my cousin Jessica and I would stay at the house all summer to oversee the work and help make decisions on interior design and such. The rest of the family could come and go throughout the summer as they please. At the end of the summer, when the work was complete, the beach house would be put up for sale.