When Ashley and I were growing up, we spent a lot of time in the Florida Keys. Our dad spent his high school years in Homestead and loved everything about the Keys: boating, fishing, spearfishing, snorkeling, diving, lobstering, drinking green-bottled beer after a great day on the water, everything. Our mom fell in love with the Keys, too, after going there with our dad.
Our parents are really cool people. They took us pretty much everywhere, including most vacations. Every summer, after returning from our annual 6-week stay with Grandmama and Grandaddy in Fort Deposit, we headed to Marathon for three weeks of swimming with angel fish and sargent majors; tickling lobsters from their lairs; eating cuban crackers topped with squeeze cheese; drinking ice-cold Chek-brand flavored soda from Winn-Dixie; boating; lots of sun; fish, dirty rice and beans for supper; one day-trip to Key West; and always one night at Pizza Hut.
Until our parents built the house at Quiet Water in 1985, we spent our three weeks at the Valhalla Beach Motel - a 12-room efficiency motel on a spit of land that is a child's dream come true. There is a big beach, a small beach, a lagoon, a mangrove forest with intersecting canals, and nowhere to get into trouble. Our parents always let us roam free, and we had a blast. So it's really no surprise that Marathon, and all that goes along with it, has been the fabric of our lives.
Now that we both have families of our own, Marathon has become even more hallowed ground as we pass down the traditions of our parents to our children. Quiet Water is our family haven. It is "Pappi's BIG house" to the little boys, and it's a landmark of memories for Ash and me. Memories that are the loom on which we weave the fabric of our children's lives.