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:
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.
Linda Chapman - June 29, 2018 5:43 am
You always make my heart just a little bit lighter after I visit here…..
Beth Reed - June 29, 2018 7:17 am
Awww what a sweet story and I whole heartedly agree. Family is everything and all you really need along with the Good Lord. Maybe a jar of salsa and Neosporin as well. Hug’s, to you Sean.
Jim Baker - June 29, 2018 10:45 am
You always start my day with a homerun without exception ! This one was a grandslam.
Martha Owens - June 29, 2018 10:51 am
Such a loving family! Proves there really are thoughtful and loving grandchildren. It’s good to hear about youngsters who are doing good things instead of so much crime committed by that generation.
LeAnne Martin - June 29, 2018 11:24 am
Such a good one. Thank you!
Deena - June 29, 2018 11:30 am
Love-it’s all around us.
Lydia - June 29, 2018 11:45 am
Family IS everything!
Theresa - June 29, 2018 11:49 am
Just found out about your posts, what a true Blessing from a true friend! She knew I needed a daily happy! Thank you my friend, and Sean!!
Barbara Pope - June 29, 2018 12:18 pm
So true, thanks for reminding us.
Peg - June 29, 2018 1:27 pm
Beautiful! Thank you for brining family to life!
JoAnne Kimrey - June 29, 2018 1:30 pm
Sean, this may be my favorite! I read your stories every day. They never fail to touch my heart. This one’s really special. Thank you for sharing.
Annie - June 29, 2018 2:00 pm
And I am RICH!!!!!
Sue Cronkite - June 29, 2018 2:11 pm
You said it all. Without family there’s not much.
Jean - June 29, 2018 3:23 pm
Sean, I thought of you when I came across an article in our rural electric magazine for the Month of July. It was about Accordion Aficionados in the State of Alabama. See http://www.alabamaliving.com for article. I would never have paid much attention to it except for your mention of being a lame accordion player. Hope you enjoy!
Edna B. - June 29, 2018 3:29 pm
I, too, am very rich. With family, and love and caring. These grandchildren are such beautiful people. Thank you for this wonderful story. You have an awesome day, hugs, Edna B.
Pat - June 29, 2018 4:54 pm
Your stories make my heart happy. I love seeing life through your eyes!
Judy Holley - June 29, 2018 5:31 pm
? Thank you for the reminder.??
Janet Mary Lee - June 30, 2018 1:40 am
Beautiful. Just beautiful! (smile!)
Jack Darnell - July 1, 2018 12:46 am
I like it!
Kelly Ray - July 1, 2018 1:42 pm
Made my heart smile again Sean…You sure have a gift and I am so glad you use it…I waited until I was 60 to start posting my songs on YouTube…Because I was afraid people would make fun of me…But … My Cousin asked me to post a song I wrote about my mom…and the rest is History…God Bless You…Thank God for family & friendship…
Kathy - July 2, 2018 12:56 am
Such a beautiful story!!
joyce luker - July 3, 2018 11:42 pm
Love this one!
Debbie Shiflett - August 25, 2018 1:13 pm
I love your posts everyday. So many times I think, this one is the best yet, until the next great one. This indeed may be it! “My friends can wait, I only get one grandma”, priceless.