by M. Kate Quinn

There was a woman on the beach that will never know the impact she had on my thoughts. We sat in our beach chairs, my husband and I, a few yards from a young family-father, mother, little girl in a ruffled bikini, and a little boy. They had all the beach gear. You know, the striped umbrella, the floral comforter that used to be on their beds now blanketing the sand they've claimed as theirs for the day. They had the cooler of snacks, the Igloo jug of juice, plastic beach toys, sunscreen, and a boogie board. The scene was ideal.

I noticed the boy. He appeared to be about five or six years old, handsome with dark thick hair. He sat in a stroller. He was immobile, his limbs slack appendages that flopped when the mom lifted him from his confinement. She placed him carefully on the blanket and lounged beside him. The dad and little girl bid them goodbye and frolicked to the water, the girl dragging her boogie board, while mom stayed behind with her son.

I could not help but pay attention to the scene, intruder that I was. Because, you see, my mind was filled that day with thoughts of disappointment. I had been thinking about how sometimes we go into life experience with the highest of expectation, with an ideal image in our minds. I had this image of what life would be like when the kids were grown and Harvey and I lived by the sea. I didn't see the endless stretch of pavement of the Garden State Parkway that it would take for them to get to us or us to get to them. I didn't foresee the pitfalls of missing out on some of the day-to-day activities with the gang or with my good good friends. Some days, like it did on my beach day, it gets to me.

But, then I watched the woman at the beach, saw the way she doted over the boy, cooed to him, her face alight. Although it appeared that the child was unresponsive, I am sure he was, indeed, communicating with his mother. I could tell by the mother's reaction to her boy.

Then when the father and little girl returned, wet and sandy from their swim, the mom listened intently when her daughter animatedly relayed her time in the waves, mom as enthused as if she had witnessed it herself.

It occurred to me that the mom most certainly could not have foreseen that this was what her experience with what parenthood would be. If she had moments of longing for something different, I could not tell. All I saw was a happy family enjoying the beach in the way they were able.

So, what did I learn? I learned that life takes its turns and we have the choice to bend with it or bend away from it. There are countless volumes on the subject of living in the now, making the best of what life is. None of them as poignant to me as that scene on the beach.

So, thank you, young mom, whoever you are. You inspired me to stop fretting over what isn't. And,  I remembered, thankfully, that what is -  is awesome.

Thank you so much Mary Kate for such a lovely post!

Mary's new release is SUMMER IRIS published by THE WILD ROSE PRESS.


The last thing Iris Stanton feels like doing is celebrating her fiftieth birthday. She’s divorced, has been downsized out of a job, and her post-marriage condo is for sale and she can’t afford to buy it. And when her crazy, out-there best friend, Yvonne, offers her the use of a beach cottage for the summer, Iris thinks the idea is preposterous. That is, until she comes up with what could be a solution to her pending homelessness. Selling off her small piece of waterfront property would save the very roof over her head, so she heads to the shore with a mission.

The cottage is in the midst of renovations orchestrated by handsome flirtatious owner, Sam Hanratty. His roguish attention gets Iris’ heart doing flips, jump starting it into remembering she’s still a woman. Sam’s foreman, Eddie Morgan, is the most annoying hulk she’s ever met, and Iris’s heart sinks like lead when she learns that he alone could sabotage the sale of her property.

Iris’ heart gets a workout this summer, with a string of unlikely events that force her to turn inward to examine what makes her tick, what is her heart’s true desire and who might hold the key.

About M. Kate Quinn

Born to a feisty Italian mother and a gentle blue-eyed Irishman, she was given the name “Marykate,” inspired by Maureen O’Hara’s character in the movie, The Quiet Man, an old-time favorite love story that co-starred John Wayne. With a grandmother Catherine and an Aunt Mary the name was an obvious choice. M. Kate Quinn has been writing stories all her life. She has an old Macy’s box in her attic filled with her writings from childhood, now smudgy-looking pages produced on her portable Olivetti Underwood typewriter, an eighth-grade gift from her Grandmother Catherine. Her first paid writing experience came when her children were young having sold greeting card concepts to a card publisher. She is a recent First Place winner of a short story contest sponsored by Reader’s Digest Magazine. She writes a column entitled “Boomer Humor” that appears monthly in her neighborhood newspaper. She and her husband are their own sweet love story, a genuinely simpatico second marriage for each with a combined total of six grown children. Also, they are the proud parents of a ridiculously spoiled, amazingly handsome cat named Samson, AKA “Sammy.” They are happy and grateful that Sammy allows them to share his home.

Check out Mary Kate Quinn's blog as well.


  1. Your reflection while on the beach brought back a memory for me. I was sitting with my son, daughter-in-law, granddaughter, and two long time friends on a beach at Cape Cod. It was dusk. While chatting we suddenly heard the sound of bagpipes in the distance. From where we stood we spotted the bagpipe player, his silhouetted from against the moonlight. We stopped talking and listened. Then it occurred to me how my husband would tell me he loved the sound of bagpipes. My friend who lived at this beach said in all her years she had never heard anyone play bagpipes on that beach. She and her husband both teachers knew my husband well, also a teacher. Then we knew. My late husband was telling us he was okay, and his spirit was with us on that beach. Like that young mother with her child, we come to appreciate what we have in the here and now because it can always change for us and at times not for the better. I just past my eighth year into widowhood and summers particularly are times of great reflection.

    Collette Thomas aka Marie Roy

  2. I love your story, Collette! I agree - that was a clear message.

    Mary Kate - really enjoyed your post, and I have to say your book cover is great!

    When my husband and I met, we had no idea that his bipolar disorder would become the deciding factor for most of our life choices. He was at acting school and I was headed for film school. We had plans - oh did we!

    But his condition brought detours, and like the mother in your story we just hauled out the maps and discovered where this new journey would take us.

  3. I am the committee chair and website owner for the Cover Cafe website. We sponsor an annual romance cover contest. I think this is a great cover and I love the idea of a romance about a woman after 50. Does it have a HEA? I hope so because I am always looking for a satisfying ending.

  4. Mary Kate - what a gorgeous post! Thank you so much for writing for us!

    And Collette - I loved your story - so poignant.

    Julia - as always - you are remarkable!

    And Linnae - thank you so much for stopping by!

  5. JO,
    Thanks for the post. I'm excited to be a regular contributor!

    Collette - Loved your story, too. How moving.

    Julia - Lovely sentiment. I love the road map analogy.

    Linnae - Thank you so much for your interest in having my cover be part of the contest. Yes, Summer Iris has a happy ending. I sent you an email.

    Thanks all!

  6. What a fabulous post and your book sounds like a must read! Thank you so much for sharing this with us.


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