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Nina at Cannon Beach. Photo: Julie Zavala

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September 16 trip to Cannon Beach. Photo collage by Nina Alvarado

I went with my daughter Nina to see Cannon Beach in Portland, Oregon this past Sunday. My son had told us how beautiful it was and he did not exaggerate--it was gorgeous.

We got there around 2 p.m. and after parking the car we headed for a wine shop that had a wine tasting bar. We were directed upstairs and as we went up I could hear George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" playing on their sound system. I commented to Nina that the song was one of her grandmother's favorites--it had even been played at her funeral.

We took our first sample--a crisp, cold, white wine--to a round wooden table by a window and sat down.

"My Sweet Lord" ended and Linda Ronstadt's "Love Is A Rose" came on. As I listened to the music I got chills that had nothing to do with the temperature of the room. This song, too, was special to Mom and I. One morning back in 1976 we recorded ourselves singing it, keeping time by tapping on the desk we were sitting at. After that, anytime we were together and that song came on the radio we would laugh and hit the table, counter top (whatever surface was handy) to the beat of the song and sing along.

I felt Mom's presence so strongly and I mentally welcomed her to our little outing. I had been thinking of how much she would enjoy the scenery on the trip up and how much fun she would have had looking through all the little touristy shops.

We finished our wine and walked down to the shore (pleasantly tipsy) to see Hay Stack Rock off in the distance, taking picture after picture as we walked. Luckily, the weather was nice but there was a chilly wind blowing so we walked back up to explore the shops. We ate lunch at a restaurant called, "The Lumber Yard", finishing off our meal with fresh coffee and berry cobbler. All the while I was thinking about Mom.

Janine and I are close like Mom and I were--in some ways, closer. We have the best time when we are together and never cease to amuse each other with our silliness. We had a magical day together, one neither of us will forget. I can't help but feel that Mama enjoyed herself, too.