I was finally going back to Texas for a visit. This was a really big deal for me. I had not been home in many years, and had never been there as an adult.

I had left with my family as a small child. We had made annual summer trips back, but now I was going back on my own. I had missed my Grandmother so much and was excited to see her again. I had many family members there to see.

When I arrived at the Houston airport, I was delighted to see my favorite uncle there to meet me. It was the middle of the night, but my first wish was to visit the beach at Galveston.

We decided to drive there and wait for the sun to come up. It was dark and humid at the beach. With two hours left till daylight we decided to sleep on the beach for a while. I was tired from the flight. We laid towels on the sand and talked until we fell asleep.

When I woke up four hours later in the hot sun, the first thing I realized was my legs were on fire.

Swimming was now out of the question. We headed for my grandmothers house. When she saw me she immediately took me to the hospital.

The backs of my legs had been burned so severely that my calf muscles were cooked and had shrunk. I could only walk with my legs bent. I couldn’t straighten them out. I spent almost the entire visit sitting in a bathtub full of lukewarm water. The only way I could walk was wearing shoes with thick heels that let me walk with bent legs. If I stopped walking my legs would immediately cramp. I couldn’t sit at all. I had to walk or lay down.

No restaurants, no sun, no swimming at Galveston.

In a record store I had to pick up a record and walk around the store to read the list of songs. There was no standing still. I worried how I would manage the plane ride home. At the time I felt that the whole trip had been ruined, but now, looking back, I know that it was a trip I will never forget. The kindness of my grandmother stands out in my mind to this day. She babied me and took care of me the entire time.

I have never allowed myself to be sunburned since.

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