The Story of Jack

The Old Man and the Sea

JackI just wanted to share… as I left the beach this morning, heading north on A1A, I saw an older gentlemen walking gingerly down the sidewalk. He had a small bag in his hands and looked to be struggling with each step. I didn’t think much of it at the time but, as I made my way northward, my curiosity got the best of me. Betsy and I stopped for just a moment along the side of the road. We looked at the Sun once more rising higher into the heavens. We both wanted to know. We made the decision to turn ourselves around.

We returned to the beach from whence we just came. We saw nothing at first but then glanced further up the shore. It was him. He was sitting on a torn-up little blanket staring towards the Sun. Not so questionable with us old folks, he appeared to be talking to someone. We had to know.

Betsy parked in her favorite spot, I made my way through the sand and soon found myself in front of him. “Excuse me sir, would you mind if I sat with you for a while? You look like you could use a friend.” Spreading his blanket out a little more he gestured to me as he patted the sand beside him. “C’mon” he said, “not much time left.” I sat beside him.

I soon discovered the small bag he carried, when I first spotted him, carried a tea pot and two tiny cups. His was nearly empty. Another sat beside him still steaming from the heat of his little teapot. “I’d offer you some tea but, as you can see, I’m fresh out of cups.” I simply nodded and thanked him for his offer. I then planted my already sand-covered butt beside him.

There was silence for a good time. It was as if we both knew why we were there. We just stared out over the horizon watching the Sun moving, ever so slowly, up the sky. The peacefulness was overwhelming to say the least. Occasionally he would reach for his little cup, hands trembling as he raised it to his lips, and gently sipped his little morning treat.

“She Loved it here” he said. “Never knew why the damn woman dragged me down here every day until now.” I felt my tears coming. “She’s sitting over here you know, right? She’s here with Jesus to visit.” He, again, patted his hand in the sand to his left side. “Yessir, she’s quite beautiful” was all I could come up with. He just smiled and turned back to the Sun.

I still don’t know why but he asked me, “Is she here with you son?” Not knowing exactly what to say I responded with “I’m with many here today sir.” Again, just another smile.

We sat together silently for what seemed like hours. The beach began to crowd with people and he decided it was time to go. Oddly enough, he stood and offered me his hand. I gladly accepted and rose to my feet. I then gathered up his blanket and placed his now empty tea cups back in his bag.

His name was Jack. His wife Elizabeth… Liz for short. I told him I would offer him a ride but I had a motorcycle and wasn’t sure he’d be up for that. He chuckled and said “Naaa, I’m too old for that these days. You go on Son, I’ll be just fine. Me and Liz have much to talk about this morning. Our grand kids are graduating high school and we’re seeing them off to college. Gonna miss the little boogers but know its the right thing to do.”

We walked together to the patio overlooking the beach. We both stood once more and pondered the power of the ocean. He turned to me and, without thinking twice, I gave him a hug. “Thanks Jack! Thanks for letting me be a part of your and Liz’s morning.” Nothing. Just a simple smile as he turned and walked towards the road back home.

I stood there for about 20 minutes. My eyes were filled with tears yet my heart was smiling. There was probably 30 years between us but I felt as though we were one. What is age? What does it mean? Is it not the heart that guides our passion and our everyday decisions? Why then does it matter to so many?

Jack is now my friend. I will see him again. I thought of him often on my way back home. Betsy gently purred beneath me. I could still see Jack’s hair, what little he had, blowing softly in the morning breeze. I still felt his hands… wrinkled from wisdom but still strong enough to pull me to my feet.  I have learned something again today.

Please don’t criticize the elderly. Offer them your heart. They’re wisdom is great and heart still pure.  We’ve so much to learn from them. If nothing else, that life goes on until our time is through. Love while we can and strive to make it last forever… for we never know when it will be taken from us.

Jack’s last words to me: “Ride like the wind Woody! When she blows too hard, put your head down and let her take you where you’re going.” These, I will not forget.