Tears and Laughter: What counts as the seasons change

I was standing in line and the woman’s total in front of me came to $6.66. The cashier laughed and said, “Well, look at that. Do you want to add something to change it?” To which the woman in front of me nervously chuckled and said, “No, that’s okay.”

The cashier punched a few more buttons on the register and replied, “Yeah, some people are bothered by it, but I never have worried about it myself.” She handed the woman her change and said with confidence, “It doesn’t count anyway unless it is written on your forehead…and I know who my father is.”

The woman who had been in front of me smiled, but was speechless as she left and I stepped up to the counter and asked if I was really in Florida. She said, “Yes you are darlin’, but I haven’t been over to the beach in twenty years.”

I was still letting this exchange play in my mind as we watched from the balcony as the sun slipped below the horizon. There was a couple below us on the beach who had just gotten engaged. The bride-to-be was visibly excited about it, or she could have been drunk, but either way I have no doubt that he loves her because he willingly participated in an over two and half hour photo session.

They took close-ups of the ring and each other and their feet together in the sand and again in the water. They drew circles in the sand and spelled out I love you and took pictures of that too. Plus they each did a series of little enthusiastic kicks at the edge of the water, him in his khakis and her in a white mini-dress.

Later when we went staggering by shining flashlights and chasing sand crabs, the happy couple was still at it. They had recruited a passing jogger to take a few shots of them together.

They were gone by morning, when I returned to the balcony with coffee and dark glasses. A version of them a few years down the road had taken their place. A baby just old enough to toddle on his own was the focus of his attentive mother’s camera, when she wasn’t handing it off to her husband, to take pictures of her while she spun her little son around and kissed on him.

She gently sat him in the sand with a pail and a shovel he didn’t know what to do with yet, and then they stood within arm’s reach of him and hugged, just looking at that baby. They don’t know it yet, but they will hold on to that hug for a lifetime.

The heat of the day soon pushed the younger families in and brought the older kids out. Their parents staked out along the beach taking turns between watching them, and swimming with them, and looking back over their shoulders at the empty nesters relaxing peacefully by the pool undisturbed and uninterrupted.

There was a retired couple taking a selfie as we were leaving the beach for lunch. They probably planned to send it to their kids.

Florida does that. It draws people of all ages. It pulls them in and out like waves.

Maybe that is one of life’s secrets, live each stage and season to its fullest as it rolls in, because it is going to quickly roll away again too, like summer fades to fall. Just remember it doesn’t count unless it is written on your forehead…and don’t ever forget who your father is.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.