People often talk about their magical vacations. This one could be considered mystical as well.
On our 6th day of our family vacation in Barbados, Jacque and I decided to break away from the rest of the clan to take a drive around the island. We pinpointed a couple of key places we wanted to hit which included Crane Beach, listed as one of the top ten most beautiful beaches in the world, and Bath Beach in Bathsheba, a favorite place of my grandmother’s who was born and raised in Barbados. The two of us piled into the Mini Moke, the doorless car we had rented, and headed off down the left side of the road, Jacque in the right-hand driver’s seat.
We first visited St. Nicholas Abbey, a Jacobean mansion that has been standing on a sugar plantation for over 350 years. Centuries of history and drama whispered from the furniture and decor of the drawing, sitting, and dining rooms, seeming to taunt its visitors with the bones of the events that once transpired in the great house, while the meat of the stories that did not make it into the historical documents were packed away and carried to the graves.
As we surveyed the drawing room my eye caught the elegant tophat resting on a wooden chair, as if it was waiting for something. I found a perfect opportunity for Jacque to take a test drive of her potential knack for psychometry, which I’ve long suspected she’s had. I asked her to hold the hat and see if she received any impressions from it. She humored me and picked it up. Now I’ve always been critical of those movies where the psychic grabs an object then displays a violent jerk upon receiving some impression, like Christopher Walken in The Dead Zone. Well, she didn’t quite jolt in the same manner, but she pulled her head back and raised her eyebrows. She then told me a story of a dinner party and an argument, with tensions being high due to some impressario being the guest of honor. After returning the hat to its place on the chair, she had me feel her hands, which were buzzing like a transformer.
After our interesting experience at the Abbey we made our way down from the highlands toward the east coast of Barbados. In transit we found ourselves on the path to Bathsheba and we gladly rolled toward my grandmother’s cherished childhood escape. We reached Bath Beach to see these stone monoliths roughly 20 or 30 feet tall standing in the surf off the beach, their lower portion chiseled away by the persistent tide delivering perpetual punches to the giant rock. They appeared as giants buried in the sand from the base of the neck on down. My consciousness was pulled out across the Atlantic on the moderate wind that had welcomed us to the beach. As I stood there I found myself inside the very emotions my grandmother felt. I knew it was there, at the Bath, between those sentinel stones, that she found, acknowledged, embraced and knew her God.
We hopped back in the little yellow Moke and meandered our way up through plantations and hut neighborhoods, roads wide enough for no more than a car and a bicycle, the hillsides littered with copies of the same goats on ropes, churches that boasted elegance despite their cinder block construction. We navigated my phone’s map like a Bajan’s machete through cane fields on our excursion to Crane Beach. Near our destination Jacque caught site of a sign pointing to Skeete’s Bay, a wink from my dear grandmother who claimed Skeete as her maiden name.
Crane Beach, however, was cordoned off by palatial estates, nine-star hotels, and that weighty pervasive sense of off-limitsness. We apparently did not have the means or privilege to appreciate the acclaimed beauty of this tropical wonder. It seemed we were relegated to a neighboring beach accessible to a barely visible road, aptly named Foul Bay Beach. Jacque and I took the Moke down the little road, parked it, and made our way onto this beach. The beach was beautiful in and of itself, though not necessarily remarkable. The waters of the small bay thrashed angrily from being enclosed by the bluffs that jutted into the water on either side, each crowned with a multi million dollar home.
Yet while I stood on Foul Bay Beach I distinctly felt the presence of Kellen, my nephew that passed a few years ago at the age of 24. I didn’t understand it. He had never been to Barbados. He was a star athlete from a rural town. He went from Waterville to North Carolina in the Army to Iraq for combat then back to Waterville. What was he doing at a beach in Barbados? Why would I be feeling him there? I put a check mark in the box marked “Doesn’t Make Sense” and dismissed it as imagination.
Two days later, as we were leaving that magical beautiful island, Jacque mentioned that she had felt Kellen at that beach. It wasn’t my imagination… he was there. I could erase that check mark and accept it as valid. As further confirmation Jacque found a penny in a odd place over the next three days, as if he was telling us not to discount his presence there.
What a wonderful addition to a fantastic getaway… it was a family vacation that included family that was no longer with us, yet are always with us.