Nancy Taylor



                    Do Mermaids Really Wear Sea Shells? 

Ever since being a young child, like many little girls, I dreamed of being a Mermaid.  I was mesmerized by water, and whether in the bath tub, the backyard pool, or in the lake, I would glide along the bottom fantasizing and hunting for “Mermaid Treasure”.

Forty years ago I moved to Florida, where I have spent hundreds of wonderful, sun splashed, days at the beach.  I’ve strolled lazily along the shore with my thigh length hair wafting in the sea breeze, feeling like a Mermaid, and once again hunting for treasure.  I have found that treasure in the form of sea shells, and as an artist, I have spun them into fabulous treasured pieces of jewelry, trinkets and ornaments.

Six months ago, I had a bilateral mastectomy.  It was undoubtedly one of the worst days of my life.  I went under anesthesia as one person and woke up as someone else.  My identity, my sensuality, and my confidence as a woman, was destroyed.  I felt grief stricken, embarrassed, and humiliated.  I chose not to have reconstruction for it would just be another assault to my already ravaged and disfigured body.  I had lost my Mermaid sparkle.

I have always believed that God would not give me trials that I could not turn into treasures, and I did not want the array of emotions that I had struggled through to go unwarranted, so early on in my healing process I decided to take my cause to the beach where I have found to be the most comfortable in my new skin.

You see, I believe that if a woman has to give up something as precious as her beautiful, loving, breasts, to the tragedy of breast disease, then she should receive something in return.  For me it is the freedom of being topless at the beach.  So over the past few months I have bared my flat chest to the warmth of the Florida sun as I lay mostly shielded from passersby.

Something struck me today that left me feeling courageous and rebellious as I sat on my blanket in the sand.  The next thing I knew, I was headed straight to the water’s edge, where I began hunting for those precious sea shells.  Amazingly enough, on separate occasions, two women approached me and as I awaited their negative responses, on the contrary, both of them asked the same question: “have you found anything beautiful today?”  Yes, I discovered acceptance, exactly as I am, and I recovered a lost treasure deep within myself.

Today was truly the best day that I have ever had at the beach!


By: Nancy Taylor