“Sugar Sand” is a term in our family that actually describes a personality trait. One that I share with my Dad. It's an adamant, unyielding certainty that there is an answer. All problems have solutions, you just need to work the right formula. All puzzles can be finished, you simply need all the pieces. Don't have one? How difficult can it be to make? Going the wrong way on the wrong 2 lane cliff-lined road on the wrong mountain in a monstrous RV? All it takes is a well executed 42 point u-ey and a defibrillator for your passengers to correct the navigational faux pas. If it's broken? Well...it was together at one point, right? No reason why it can't be mended. And a foundation can be dug anywhere...even in the middle of seasoned, concrete-like Florida red clay in one day. All you need are shovels and a few willing, albeit unwitting, volunteers.
The Sugar Sand syndrome has been a shared trait between my Dad and me for the majority of my life. Manifesting itself in the friendships I kept, projects I was constantly starting, and dreams I allowed to tease when I was a teenager. As an adult the dreams realized in the houses I believed I could own, businesses I could start, relationships I could salvage, jobs I could master, friend’s issues I could solve. I could be a working single mom.... start a business, maintain a house hold, and manage the pain of broken relationships in my life... all the while "taking in strays,” as my mom would say. Taking on the burdens of those around me as if they were my own and walking them through. No matter the cost.
Sounds like a noble strand of my character, doesn't it? At times, it certainly is. There are things I have seen and accomplished that I would have missed out on without that "what's the worst that could happen" tenacity. However, the dark side is certainly vast. When the people I love get caught in the cross fire of me waging someone else's war. Lost relationships, bad parenting decisions, failed businesses, and a good bit of loneliness. It's not always popular or pain-free to push through the dark when you are the only person believing that there is light at the end of a long haul.
Yet, I cannot help myself. Nor could my Dad. The road got narrow. Grandma hummed hymms to keep from hyperventilating. Grandpa chatted away like nothing was happening. Mom considered how to murder Dad if we actually arrived alive, RV intact at the bottom of the wrong mountain. 16 year old me was feigning sleep with her Walkman blaring. Dad completed a grossly illegal, 42 pointer, on a 2-lane road, on the side of the wrong mountain, in monstrous RV? Damn right, he did.
Fast forward a decade or so… 20 men showed up early that morning at the site for their first church building. Following the charge of their fearless leader they set out to save a bit of the budget by digging the foundation themselves. "No problem,” he said. “I've done it before...we will be out of here by noon. It's just sugar sand!" It was not "sugar sand." They considered just building right on top of it. "How much harder could concrete really be?" Combining their collective strength with a dose of Jim Peterson's "we can do this" prodding...they dug, and dug, and dug. Just before twilight, shovels dull, hands blistered, and backs breaking, those same 20 men, my kid brother, and a friend that likely NEVER went anywhere with our family again, looked out over a neatly dug hole ready to be filled by a concrete truck the next morning. From what I understand that church is still digging. Those 20 men were most of the congregation at that time. 30 some odd years later, they are continuing to bring the foundation of hope to the people in Marianna today.
To this day, my brother and I joke about that trip. We laugh at Dad’s "It's just sugar sand" metaphore and have never quite tired of teasing him about how wrong he was that day. However, underneath the banter, we know some of those men may have quit before the task was done. We know there were times of doubt and loss that may have threatened the strength of our family. I know, I may have never have believed the layer of rock failure and shame leave behind could be dug out and a solid foundation poured in its place.
They didn’t quit. Neither has our family. And most profoundly, nor have I. All due to the fierce, unrelenting belief that in the end, it’s all just sugar sand.
This blog is a personal collection of my thoughts, wins, losses, memories, and crossroad moments. Almost all of which were hashed out around my kitchen counter and in my journals. If any of it resonates with you and you are ready to free-up the hidden badass you ARE right now, I can help. It’s time… Click the link and Let’s chat.