The shacks, peppered throughout St. Pete’s Beach, are for housing beach chairs. But these hardy Midwesterners saw them as the perfect windbreak from Florida’s unseasonably chilly gusts, even for January.
Sunsets here are renowned, and it was our last vacation night. My husband and I made our way through the squeaky, white sand and hunkered down by our windbreak. Once out of the wind, we could relax and look to the horizon. The sun was on the move.
That’s when the sunset deliverer appeared.
With mixed drink in one hand and a smart phone in the other, he ambled over to the windbreak. I guess he knew the value of a good beach chair shack, too.
He’d been here before. Many times.
Our middle-aged visitor lived just on the other side of the highway. It was an easy walk to get to one of the plentiful beach bars and wind up his day with a favorite drink. He was a bachelor and didn’t have any other family with him. His mother lived in the Midwest. And she worried about him.
That’s the thing about mothers. Even before you were born, she was worrying about you.
We learned a lot about each other in those few minutes. Funny how that can happen with complete strangers. But we weren’t there to talk. The sun was meeting the water. We strode out and clicked away at the colorful sight before us.
Walking back to the windbreak, he got busy texting and attaching his sunset photo. He sent it to his mother.
He does that every night.
It lets her know that he’s ok. I’m guessing his elderly mother sends a quick acknowledgement back, letting him know that she’s ok too.
Maybe he’s not the best at making phone calls. A lot of people aren’t. I got the feeling that many days could go by without a visit on the phone with his mother. With the distance between them, personal visits had to be even tougher to accomplish.
The natural order of life is for our kids to grow up and become independent adults with productive and busy lives of their own. We parents wouldn’t want it any other way.
But no matter how spectacularly autonomous they become, mothers still worry about them. Are they happy? Are they lonely? Are they safe? Are they healthy? The list goes on.
The sunset deliverer knows this. He’s figured out that a mother’s love will also include unnecessary worry over a grown and capable man. It’s all a package deal.
And so even though he doesn’t call, he sends a stunning sunset.
Some might feel he’s doing the bare minimum for his elderly parent. Others will see the act as one of great thoughtfulness. It’s not everything, but it’s something.
I watched the sunset deliverer trudge through the deep sand and return to his bar stool, where he comfortably struck up a conversation with the fellow next to him.
It’s sundown at St. Pete’s Beach, and all is well. His mother needn’t worry tonight.