It would be no grand secret to say that it would have been virtually impossible for my children to not have become Beatles fans. In fact, I dare say that I would have felt like an abysmal failure as a father if it had not been so. And I guess you could also say, in terms of handing down things almost instinctively, it makes perfect sense in more ways than one. For instance, though I have very little memory of my mother who was snatched from us at an early age, and though childhood and even teenage memories are for some reason a dismal blur to me, I have old film archives of my sister Kim, and my brother Mike and I, dancing feverishly in the late 60’s to anything the Beatles were currently playing. And to be sure, this was none other than the conspiracy of my beloved Aunt Gayle and my dear Mother Agnes, who were undeniably in cahoots for the branding of us into the hysteria known as Beatlemania.
Fast forward till now, and indeed all of my sons have joined the addiction, but none quite as infected as my eldest namesake Mark. Consequently, I grinned like the Grinch peering down on Whoville, as I watched him pick up musical instruments and play them almost effortlessly as a child, and equally so as some of the first songs he played and reflected upon were from the timeless musical catalog of none other than John, Paul, George and Ringo. And now, many moons later, I would get the news that both he and his lovely wife would name their expected child Julia, as I then shed an irrepressible entourage of tears to hear that her middle name would be the namesake of the Mother I never knew: Agnes. That most beautiful, amazing and ever mysterious name.
The Mother Wound
And as I reflected more on the thought of this beloved child coming into the world and John’s myriad of meetings for the song, it was almost haunting then to know that at least one of the meanings was indeed a tribute to John’s equal beloved Mother named Julia, who evidently most influenced his decision to abandon all else for the sake of his music. And what a wise soul she was indeed. John actually tells of losing her twice, both as a young lad who was then raised by his Auntie, and then who later picked up his relationship with his Mum as a teen, but who later died in a dreadful car crash. The fate of both of our Mothers was tragic to say the least. The difference was however being a glorious love of his Mother that John then lost, and mine of loving the mere thought of someone I only imagined from old film reels and family stories of her love for me that had vanished abruptly in the fall of 1969. The gaping Mother wound was significant nonetheless for us both, and one which I believe explains also the restless “Ocean Child” in me, and the equal desire at least to express it in words that are perhaps inspired from the wound itself. It is then only fitting that my little ocean grandchild Julia will carry on that namesake, and who will possibly also be one who like me, looks to the ocean like a long-lost lover longing for some sweet reunion.
Mutual Love of the Ocean
My Aunt Gayle told me not along ago that she kind of got the sniffles when she heard that I was moving to Surfside Beach. She then shared with me that my mother Agnes loved it immensely. This of course made me smile from ear to ear as I contemplated the thought of it. And it occurred to me that perhaps somehow in a mystical way she left that to me, perhaps to ponder her own equal restless heart and perhaps find it, and somehow to be touched by a shadowy piece of her, and to feel the healing warmth of her love that I missed long, long ago. It brings me great comfort to think so nonetheless, and I now long to share my love for the ocean with my beloved Julia and the comradery that now the three of us will share. I will equally look forward to opening up to her of both my love and thoughts on God, what her namesake means, and to watch her grow into her very own individuality and to blossom into an unrivaled beauty as my late Mother clearly was. And of course, as one who will also grow up with a wonderful Father and Mother, and into an extended family, who if they possess nothing more, are full of love and grace and peace ready to bestow upon her without measure.
The truth is, though I speak of namesake here, and talk of the beauty of family, I am not an expert of feeling its effects outside of the grateful creation of my own, with the real hero of that being my beloved Paula, of whom I now share my “ocean child” life with. In fact, I can remember as if it were yesterday as a child, often being in a crowded room of people, and yet somehow feeling as if I was always the “odd man out”. And though I have now grown into an old man by the sea, the reclusive nature of a soul somehow disconnected from relational intimacy outside of my own little family is now fully grown and more observable, and that which compels me to spill it out with musings on paper for perhaps nothing more than my own catharsis, or in flickering hopes of an epiphany of sorts into the mystery that is now Grandpa Prince. I know my little Julia’s life will be markedly different than mine was, and I praise the Father above for that, and thus do not wish my unpredictable perplexity on her for a moment. However, I do hope and pray that she shares the love of the ocean with her Grandpa, and the desire to know the unique nature of what her namesake means to those of us who will be unable to look at her without starry-eyed reminiscence of some transcendent essence of Agnes that she will possess. But most importantly, I pray that she will always rest her beautiful head and all of her hopes and dreams into the loving arms of Jesus, who will never leave her nor forsake her, and who will always hold her near and dear to His most blessed and sacred heart.
Now to be sure, Julia will enter a world in a familial sense that will be drastically different than my own experience, and of that for which I am eternally grateful as I mentioned. For she will be a child armed with love and in knowing the unconditionality of that love. A love that has absolutely nothing to do with what she becomes, or for that matter, for any namesake that she indeed carries; but one that is hers simply because of whose she is, and for who she is. And whether or not she will look just like me, be a “chip off the ole block” as they say, have my sense of never-ending sarcasm, or share my obvious bibliophile tendencies; I cannot yet know. However, my sweet Julia, from one ocean child to another, Grandpa will look forward to seeing you at the beach!