Family Ties

After surgery, she almost cancelled this Florida trip—which she has been wanting to take for ten years.

The grocery store is packed with tourists. And I mean packed. There are hundreds of them.

And I am stuck in a cluster of middle-aged men who wear neon-colored swim trunks and flip flops.

You could say that I’m here against my will. My wife sent me on a very important shopping mission to buy:

1. Salsa.
2. Neosporin.

And because no household can survive for more than forty-eight hours without salsa or the miraculous properties of Neosporin, here I am.

The middle-aged men in the checkout line are laughing and carrying on. They are wearing Margaritaville T-shirts, and their skin is a deep reddish-tan.

I can spot a Beach-Tourist-Dad tan a mile away. It’s all in the nose region.

Middle-aged male tourists, you see, rarely apply sunscreen to their noses—don’t ask me why. Thus, on a typical beach vacation, a Beach Dad often resembles the captain of Santa’s sled team.

As it happens, it’s a good thing Beach Dad isn’t ACTUALLY steering Santa’s sleigh because Beach Dad also drives like a clinically insane stuntman.

Sometimes, you can see Beach Dad weaving his minivan through heavy traffic while singing along with a Jimmy Buffet greatest hits album, nearly causing ten-car pile ups.

But getting back to the grocery store. There’s a small boy standing in the checkout aisle behind me. He’s pushing a wheelchair with a woman in it. The woman is mid-seventies. She has a cast on her ankle.

There is also a teenage girl with her. The three-person clan is a nice-looking one. And because they are only buying sodas and popsicles, I insist they cut in line.

The boy wheels the woman ahead of me. The older woman thanks me.

I ask where they’re from.

“Arkansas,” she says. “These are my grandkids. We’re down here for two weeks.”

She tells me that she is still recovering from ankle surgery. Her injury happened a few weeks ago when she was lifting a potted plant on her patio. She tripped over her dog. Her ankle shattered. She fractured a bone in her wrist, too.

After surgery, she almost cancelled this Florida trip—which she has been wanting to take for ten years.

“Almost didn’t come,” she goes on. “I was so disappointed, too, ‘cause I’ve wanted to visit Florida all my life, but never got to before my husband died.”

But her grandkids weren’t about to let her miss the Sunshine State. The teenage girl, Georgia, volunteered to be Granny’s personal chauffeur.

Georgia just got her driver’s license.

Georgia originally planned on taking a vacation with her friends to Charleston instead of Florida, but when her grandmother almost cancelled her trip, she volunteered.

“I love my grandma,” says Georgia. “My friends can wait. I only get one grandma.”

Granny pats Georgia’s hand. “She could be off having fun with her friends, but she’s stuck with boring Granny.”

“You’re not boring,” says Georgia. “I love you.”

“Me, too, Grandma,” says the boy. “I love you.”

Kisses are exchanged. I believe in the human race.

These two kids deserve awards. Especially Georgia, who could be doing teenage things. Instead, she’s spending her week navigating through dangerous Beach Dad traffic.

Georgia tells me: “The people drive bad in this town. One guy cut me off in the parking lot and almost smashed our car.”

I’m not a betting man, but I’ll bet the farm that the man had a sunburned nose.

Granny smiles and says, “Georgia’s the best driver you ever saw. She handled it well. She’s so responsible.”

The boy hugs his sister and says, “I’m proud of you, Georgia.”

She hugs him back.

This is too much affection for one column.

Anyway, our conversation ends. The three-person family pays for their popsicles and Cokes. Before they roll away, I ask Granny if she needs any help to her vehicle.

“No,” she says. “I got my family.”

Family. If there’s anything better in this world, I don’t care to know what it is.

The cashier looks at my two items on the conveyor belt and says, “Is this ALL you came here for today?”

No, ma’am. This isn’t all. I came here to see something beautiful, first hand. And to be reminded of something I often forget: that a person with family has everything.


Except salsa and Neosporin.


  1. Marilyn Vance - July 5, 2019 10:09 am

    Yep, those two things are the only things I lack. Friends and family I have, and I thank God for them! Hope your fourth was spectacular, Sean and Jamie, and I hope you don’t need the Neosporin soon!

  2. Steve Bailey - July 5, 2019 10:52 am


  3. Butch Veazey - July 5, 2019 11:17 am

    Neosporin aka: “Boo boo jelly”. I swear if their marketing team was on the ball I would use that nickname in their TV advertising. Can’t you imagine the biggest burliest guys playing like a pro football player or a motorcycle gang member getting a scratch and then saying in a whiney voice “I need some boo boo jelly” then the voiceover would say it’s also known as Neosporin…

    • throughmyeyesusa - July 5, 2019 5:06 pm

      PERFECT! I love it!
      When I was a child I had a horse. When horses get boo boo’s, they’re treated with gentian violet, an iridescent purple disinfectant. To us kid it was always, “Tincture of Purple Stuff”. Since even the adults called it that, I was full grown….and practicing medicine….before I knew better!

      • Debbie - August 3, 2019 1:27 pm

        How well I know of the purple stuff. It ruined my Florida trip. Living in Georgia we had a distant neighbor that had a mini farm. I loved playing with the children. They lived so differently from us. To make a long long story short I contacted impetigo (due to their “nastiness”) per my parents. Now, comes the color purple. My dad painted several spots on my face with this tattooing color. My mother had a fit. We still made our trek to Florida. Imagine a pale blonde, skinny as a rail with a purple marked face on the beach. Needless to say I was looked at like I had the plague. I am Sixty Eight now and still remember it well.
        # scarred for life.

  4. Marilyn - July 5, 2019 11:20 am

    So thankful for my family. And thankful that my friend let me know about your blog. What a great start to my day!!

  5. Sue Carol Browning - July 5, 2019 12:32 pm

    This is a really great column. We are looking forward to having you in Auburn, Kentucky next month!

  6. Carolyn - July 5, 2019 1:45 pm

    I once bought a generic Neosporin to save a little money. After using it for 3 days my cut still hadn’t
    healed. I went back to store and bought the “real”
    Neosporin and it healed immediately…true story!
    It’s great boo boo jelly!

  7. Jack Darnell - July 5, 2019 1:57 pm

    FUNNY that. I once met a woman at the beach in NC, she was originally from the mountains of NC, “All these tourists from out of town are ruining the beaches around here,”
    And Charlie, lives in Florida. “I am sick of all these tourists, they ruin Florida.” Charlie is from Indiana. I have friends who are real Floridians and I never hear that, LOL
    I’m a transplanted NC boy myownself. HA!
    Sherry and jack in The woods of Virginia, I am a visitor, no red nose, I’m just old. LOL
    Good one my friend

  8. Linda Moon - July 5, 2019 3:47 pm

    Red-nosed Beach-Tourist-Dads: a slightly better second-cup-of-coffee visual than yesterday’s misplaced corncobs and nosy junebugs. This grandma spent time with a beloved granddaughter yesterday and will spend time with another one today. So, that’s everything I need right now. No salsa and Neosporin necessary!

  9. Shelton A. - July 5, 2019 4:54 pm

    Family is worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox…and a family who loves each other so much, well, that’s worth so much more.

  10. throughmyeyesusa - July 5, 2019 5:08 pm

    Family…..and country. On this day after America’s 143rd birthday celebration, let’s not forget the blessing of our great country!

  11. Connie Havard Ryland - July 5, 2019 8:12 pm


  12. Kim tillman - July 5, 2019 11:49 pm

    Love this one so much!

  13. Cyndy - July 6, 2019 12:10 am

    Thank you for giving me something to smile about today.

  14. Joe Patterson - July 6, 2019 12:20 am

    Love it thanks again

  15. Shannon Perkins - July 12, 2019 8:10 am

    Beautiful story. Brought tears to my eyes.

  16. Alice Grimes - July 22, 2019 5:52 pm

    If only more of our younger generations felt that way. I have one son who is adopted and one grandchild his daughter. I long for this kind of love and involvement in my life with them but after a life of being there for them and helping far more than I could afford I am only tolerated.

    • throughmyeyesusa - September 6, 2021 3:57 am

      I’m so sorry. I have a natural son who was the pride of my life, & my joy as well….until he met HER at 17. I don’t know what she told him, what she said, but they only ate at HER house (“Her mother likes to cook for us.” And I didn’t?!) & it went downhill from there. They married, then divorced, but I never got him back again. His politics went haywire, his Christian upbringing fell away….. & he stayed distant.
      Don’t get me wrong; he is an extremely well educated, hardworking, dutiful son; remarried, two beautiful well brought up children, never forgets a birthday or anniversary. But the warmth isn’t there & the chances that he’d risk exposing my grandchildren to our politics, unchaperoned, is nil. (He even blocks our preferred news channels when we visit & I suspect, always, lest his children hear a ‘poisonous’ Conservative viewpoint!) He responds to texts in monosyllables (Ok). My sweet darling granddaughter does almost the same.
      It makes me incredibly sad. Like you, I feel I am only tolerated.

  17. unkle Kenny - August 3, 2019 12:48 pm

    a good story is always best when retold , kimda like leftovers from lunch that taste better the next day !


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