Posted by: Mariah Hollifield | November 19, 2007

Sand, Man-O-War, Raccoon

After Church, we went to the Beach. The kids LOVE the beach.  Me – not so much. The sand, the trips across the sand, over to, where ever the bathrooms are, the man o war and the raccoon. What a day.It started out great. We got there, a new place, never sure where to go, the best place to park…

But we made a decision, parked, unloaded us, 4 children and ALL our beach stuff. We were on our way, down the beach, across the sand to a great place to set up.

Mariah, Nathan, Maggie & Meredith were off, into the water they went, a little chilly, but they were ready.  Floats were blown up, sand castles were built, fun, fun, fun!

Out of the corner of my eye I could see something coming toward us. It was a big, fat raccoon!  We jumped up out of our beach chairs – you know, the ones that sit almost on the ground, and watched. He looked around at our things for a minute, then walked over to the trash can and tried to get the top off, and then he left.

The kids continued playing, having a wonderful time, loving the sand and the water. Then Maggie came screaming over to us, holding her hands out, screaming “it stings, it stings!” I told her to go wash her hands off in the water so I could see, this only made it hurt more and the screaming louder.  We got her to sit down, put a towel around her and as we looked at her hands, they were swelling, turning bright red with white lines across the backs of them. She also had bright red places on the tops of her legs. I went down near the water where she had been playing and saw a man o war on the beach. I picked it up with a shovel and asked her if that was what she touched – yes, it was.  She thought she had found a pretty blue and purple toy in the sand — so she picked it up!

I picked-up a few things & stated off down the beach, back toward the bathrooms with Maggie, while Paul collected ALL the rest of our things and the rest of the children.  Maggie was a little ahead of me, still screaming, trying to hurry and get to the bathrooms, fussing at me to hurry, quite loudly, still screaming. Behind me came Meredith, crying and fussing because I was going too fast and wanted me to wait for her. What a sight we must have been! What a long trip down the beach.

We were finally near the restrooms, when a very nice family, that was on vacation, asked “did she get stung? Yes, I replied, and I’m really not sure what to do. One of the girls is a life guard at a beach and knew exactly what to do. I took Maggie into the bathroom and tried to wash some of the sand off and see if cool water would help, they said to be careful, if the water is too cold, it might send her into shock! That news sent me into shock! When we came out of the bathroom, the life guard had gone to the (sort of) nearby restaurant and gotten some vinegar. We put it on her hands, and legs, all the while, she is still screaming. The life guard said that it would take about 30 min. but then all the pain should be gone.

What a blessing that family was. They were trying to leave and stopped and took time to help us. They sat with us (on the side walk, in the sand) and talked with us trying to help Maggie calm down and reassure her that the vinegar really would help and that soon the pain would be gone.

As we were loading-up, back into the car, Maggie wanted to know how much longer it was going to hurt. I randomly said 5 minutes, and for the next 10 minutes, we counted down 5…41/2, 4, 31/2, 3…and by the time we got to 1, amazingly, all the pain was gone!

On the way home, we talked about how the Lord works all things out for the good of them that love God. We explained that God never promised us that nothing bad would happen to us, but that He would work it out for us. We talked about how we could have parked somewhere else at the beach that day, not near a restaurant that had vinegar, or where that wonderful family was who knew what to do to help us. God is always watching over us. He loves us very much. This really seamed to “sink-in” with the kids–especially Maggie. And it was a much needed reminder for me.


  1. Thanks for the reminder as well. Think we need that from time to time.

    Much love and many blessings,


  2. Man-of-War is no fun. I hate that she got into one of those!

  3. Ouch…nice tip on the vinegar. I’ll have to remember that the next time we go to the beach. Hmmmm….when will that be?

  4. Your story made me cry. It’s so nice you found something to be positive about at the end of a traumatic event! So sorry for Maggie!

  5. Oops, that last comment was me and not Travis!

  6. Thanks for sharing that. It’s great to see how incidents like these can be teaching moments. I had to laugh at your sense of humor in recounting this event. Keep writing. You are inspiring.

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