My Gift From The Sea

2-3-IMG_3261Each time I sit down and write, I always clear away my desk and listen, I think, I sit quietly and decide what are big sources of inspiration for me. Is it the ocean CD that I play each time I sit down and begin to write? Is it the cup of coffee I prepare myself in my favorite mug?  My children? My husband? Well, today it’s simply a book, my favorite book. My mother and father gave “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh to me when I was 17 years old. A wonderful and special book that has always remained so close to my heart as it brings me back to a life and time much simpler than now. It also allows us to see our lives as they could be and how we can make changes, simple, but powerful changes.

When we moved from Cape Cod to North Carolina in 2009, I put this book on my nightstand where it has always sat. I dust it off when it’s needed and move it around sometimes but it always ends up right where I first placed it, funny how that works. This book has seen life as I’ve seen it, traveled with me to so many places. I brought it with me when we visited Wrightsville Beach in Wilmington, NC a few years ago as I wished to recapture the same feelings I had when I first read this book. Serenity. Nostalgia. Peace. As I sat in my beach chair I watched my children play in the sand with my husband. I opened up the book and out fell a beautiful picture of my mother. It took my breath away. One of the last ones taken… A wave of emotion came over me like the ocean waves that brushed against my feet. The waves of the ocean always bring whatever clings onto the movement of the water. What has the tide brought me? My most treasured book that was home to one of my most treasured possessions: My mother’s picture.

I lost my mother in 2009 to breast cancer.  An amazing and wise woman that could take one look at me and know what I was thinking. “You are your mother’s daughter.” My father would respectfully say, and I am so happy. I’ve got her fire, her amazing sense of organization and the ability to create bubble letters perfectly! She helped me with difficult decisions and I often called her “mum” or “mumma.” Her voice, her words still fill my head, my heart, and my life, everyday. “Susan, you need to do what makes you happy, not what makes other people happy.” I have always remembered her words, as they still sound as fresh as they did many years ago. She always knew and always saw what I could accomplish. Throughout the years and since her passing, I have referred to this book for basic sentiment allowing me the vision of what could be. I keep her picture in the pages of this book, as it sits in between each page offering a place of comfort, protection, as if I were still hugging my mother in times of need or just to be near her. She is with me every day. The corners of this book are tattered and torn showing their age from the many adventures this book has taken, but inside, the pages remain unscathed and pristine, like her picture. Protected.

photo(44)(2)I can open up this book and read the simple but powerful words that trickle off the page and into my heart. I am a mother, a wife and small business owner that one particular Tuesday, almost a year ago right after we moved to Charlotte, I knew that I wanted and needed a change in my life. What will make me happy? Should I make a change at this time in my life? YES!  I have always had the desire to have my own “shop” one way or another, big or small. I wanted to make it happen. So I did, and Tides of Cape Cod was born. I am remembering my mother’s words. They echo in my mind.

I live my life the way I want to live it. Our boys have enjoyed watching me create something from nothing and are learning that hard work will get you places in this world. “Gift from the Sea” has always been a source of inspiration for me in my life. It’s something I have kept to myself and knowing this book will always be there for me when I need to escape into the well-versed pages. I can “leave” this world, go back in time to my early adulthood where I sat on the beach, alone and optimistic looking out at the ocean and dreaming of what my life will be.


By:  Susan Milk Grady


  1. Joy K. Hambly says:

    Susan – you write so well! I loved your story and seeing our mother’s picture. I also have the same book on my coffee table in FL where I lead a more relaxed life, and can enjoy the company of my daughter and her children. I am so pleased that you took your mother’s advice and did what you were meant to do! I also, became a teacher – something I had never envisioned for myself, but found drawn to it in my 30’s. It was a career that I loved,
    felt blessed to be able to work with children like you , and watch them progress into something amazing! Thanks so much for sharing! The ocean is a special place.
    Peace, “Mrs. Hamby”

  2. Susan Milk Grady says:

    Thank you so very much Joy for the kind words. You were such a big part of my mother’s life and she is with me woven in my thoughts everyday guiding me along while I make decisions. The ocean will always be a very special place for me.

    Take care,

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