PRAYING FOR FLORIDA
by Lydia Bogar
Speechless and helpless. What to do in our vigil for Florida as Irma roars into the warm turquoise waters that many of us know and love? Pray.
My Florida memories are widespread, going back to 1955 when my parents took us to Hollywood to watch my uncle build a house on a golf course that featured a creek full of snakes and alligators. We returned many times over the next decade. We found comfort and peace there after my father’s death and were distracted by the flamingoes at Hialeah, the Parrot Jungle, the monkeys screeching on a swamp cruise, and the alligator wrestlers in the Seminole Village. Eventually, my uncle passed away, and the cousins moved north.
My first trip to Disney was with my ex-husband and our oldest daughter when she was 18 months old. It was “The Happiest Place on Earth,” and later that evening, on a small, black and white television in Kissimmee, we watched as President Nixon resigned.
My first trip to Key West was in 1982. Wow! What a place–beautiful flowers, snorkeling off Smathers Beach, Hemingway’s cats, and sunsets at Mallory Square. Six years later, I took my daughters to Key West, and it was even more fabulous– our first family vacation since the divorce, and I reveled in my independence and strength as a single mother.
Fifteen years would pass until a trip to visit college friends who took early retirement and settled in Cocoa Beach. Multiple trips there and to Clermont to visit retired co-workers who lived in a gated community. As beautiful as it is was, I could never live in a place where house colors were limited to 5 shades of grey and beige and the stars and stripes could only be flown on national holidays.
In February, a BOLLI classmate shared ten wonderful days at her rental in Saddlebunch Key. Thank you, Betsey, for the laughter, the insight, and the indelible memories; the dolphins, the Turtle Rescue on Marathon Key, glorious sunsets, people watching, walking through shops and galleries downtown, and more than a few Margaritas.
The memories and the photos are now being used now for prayer. Prayers for the residents, especially those who make their living on the ocean–particularly the fishermen and those in the hospitality business. The first responders who will stay on the job for days without sleep, who may risk their own lives to save others, and who may end the weekend with no homes to go to.
Memories and prayers can be one and the same. Please add your prayers and comments.
Our own “Renaissance Woman,” Lydia has done everything from teaching English to working as a health professional and doing volunteer emergency service. We’re lucky to have her volunteering, these days, to help with BOLLI Matters!