Friday, July 10, 2009

Footprints in the sand

I love being on vacation with my family whether it’s just the five of us (Paul, Clark, Phil, Cherlyn and me) or all 16. This week the five of us are in Tofino on the west side of Vancouver Island. It took us over ten hours of driving plus a ferry ride to get here, to our friends’ vacation house, Spindrift. It is definitely a house, not a cabin. It has hardwood floors, a washer and dryer, five bedrooms and four bathrooms and is right on the ocean. As I am typing this I can see surfers in front waiting for the right wave. It is 6:37 p.m. and Paul and I are just getting ready to take another walk on the beach. I don’t know how long it will be. Normally it would be a couple of miles but we have walked and hiked a total of eight miles today, my best guess.

We arrived last Saturday night. After unloading the van and then going to the grocery store we took a long walk on the beach. Phil said to me “Look, no footprints.” And he was right. The beach is very wide with hardpacked sand, finer than grains of sugar, and a slope that is so gradual people were riding bicycles. At the time of our walk there was a thin sheen of water, thus no footprints. The next day he observed that footprints were following us. I thought a lot about the “no footprints” comment. How many people have lived since Adam and Eve? How many have left a record of some sort? And for those who did, what did that record say about their lives?

As I took my daily walk in our neighborhood a few weeks ago a woman crossed the sidewalk in front of me heading to her house (which is a few streets over from my house). I commented on how much the moles liked her yard. I had noticed for years that her house seemed to have more than its share of mounds in a beautifully kept lawn. We complained about those annoying critters. “By the way, I’m Molly.” she told me. I introduced myself and we continued chatting. She told me that she and her husband had lived in that house for 41 years (we have lived in ours for 34 years and yet I had never met her), had raised two children, and that he had died just a couple of months ago. A friend of mine who lives on her street told me that there were two houses next to each other where both husbands had Alzheimer’s. Often as I walked past her house I would wonder how things were going even though I did not know them but now I knew; he had died. “What a great man he was.” she said. She told me that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s twenty years ago and that she had taken care of him at home until the end.

I think we all want a confirmation that what we’re doing during our lifetime is important even if it is not glamorous in the eyes of the world. We want footprints that say we were here and that our lives mattered, like Molly’s. Her actions will not be lauded, nor even known, by very many but she is a hero in my eyes. Clark and Phil are leaving footprints. I have observed their impact on our family, our neighborhood, our church community, our friends, strangers in a store, cashiers in a bank, or Special Olympics volunteers.

This vacation is almost over and I’m not ready to leave the beach and long walks on the sand.


  1. Clark & Phil have definitely left footprints in our lives. Nathan and I still mention them occassionally - in fact, your whole family.

    Thank you for the story about your neighbor. I completely agree. When I think of the people that I MOST admire, it is nearly always those who have lived relatively unnoticed, seemingly insignificant lives, yet they have done it with faith and selflessness.

  2. Isn't it interesting how a seemingly insignificant comment can cause you to reflect on some very important principles.

  3. Sister Tucker, I always love reading your blog and feeling so inspired. Life always gets into focus more and the priorities are checked on and put where they need to be!
    Thank you! We miss Seattle and the 7th ward.
    Jamie Kidman

  4. It was great to hear from you, Jamie. I hope that all is well with you and your family. We loved getting to know you during your time in 7th Ward.