Saturday week ago we were on family vacation at Surfside Beach, Texas. We rented a 5 bedroom beach house that sleeps 30. That’s a lot, but if everyone was there, 28 would be piled in … at least until the next grandchild is born in October.
On the verge of cocky, we guys planned a fish fry (fish we hadn’t yet caught) Saturday night for the 18 of us there. Thank goodness it wasn’t on the keepers I caught. Gandhi ate more than that!
We fished off the jetties the first day, and my sons locked into a dozen or so speckled sea trout. They just quietly grinned like cats at a dairy farm every time I reeled in a small fish.
In the end though, we had more than enough fish.
We ate and ate, but cooked way too much. (That’s what you get when five men cook a meal.)
Anyway, fish, fries and hushpuppies aren’t very good the next day. Someone in the tribe suggested passing out pans of food to people on the beach or in nearby beach houses.
Ashley, my daughter-in-law officially, but really more bona fide daughter, quickly volunteered to go share the leftovers. I didn’t want her walking up to strangers by herself, so I seconded the motion to go with her. We bundled a couple of big containers in Reynold’s Wrap and took off to find beneficiaries for the hot food.
We stopped at the first house where someone was out on the balcony. It was the same house where the night before a lot of hooting and hollering went on until 3:00 AM. A few of us heard, but most slept right through their noise.
Ashley called up to their balcony asking if they wanted some fresh fish and fixings.
The folks, give or take, were about my age. A weathered, silver haired man immediately accepted while more from their beach house came to the balcony edge to take a look at us. Ashley, all five feet tall of her, confidently started up the stairs taking the food to them.
The silver haired man, who was fairly tipsy, looked down at me and said, “I’m really sorry about all the noise last night!”, which was interesting. We’d never said a word about their noise the night before.
The man took the big tray of food from Ashley, put it on the table, and immediately began munching on fish and fries.
He looked down at me again from the balcony and in slurred words said, “Thanks so much to you hippies!”
He flashed the peace sign and continued, “Peace to you and, and, (stuttering for words) and wherever you go, (long pause) be safe!”
When Ashley got to the bottom of the stairs, a lady looked over the balcony and asked, “How did you know to give us this food?”
Ashley explained we cooked too much and wanted to share with the first people we saw to bless them.
The lady was moved saying, “Well, we’re here grieving. I just lost my sister and we want to be happy, but it’s just so sad.” She was filled with emotion and her voice quivered as she spoke.
Ashley boldly asked if she could pray for her. The woman readily agreed. Ashley, all spiritual ten feet tall of her, bolted back up the steps to the woman.
Ashley threw her arms around the large woman and began praying out loud for her and her family. After two sentences, the woman began sobbing and shaking with emotion.
I stood below watching.
The silver haired man eating fish didn’t exactly know what to do. He sat down. After a few seconds, he stopped chewing, bowed his head and looked at the floor. A few seconds later, he closed his eyes and put both palms together.
Ashley’s prayer and the lady’s emotional response was deeply moving. It was as if Ashley’s prayer was a welcome flood of relief to the lady as it rained down on a dry, desperate soul.
On the other hand, I was highly amused by the silver haired man.
As the prayer continued, he peeked with one eye and looked back over at the fish. He glanced back at Ashley and the woman before reaching for another piece. He shoved the whole thing in his mouth, bowed his head again, and chewed the whole time.
When Ashley finished “in Jesus’ name, Amen”, the lady sincerely thanked her for praying.
The silver haired man stood and spoke to me again. “Peace out to you guys!”
Holding up another piece of fish, as if he was making a toast, he said, “May your travels be safe (pause) wherever y’all go.”
I nodded, smiled and thanked him while Ashley hugged the lady once more.
As Ashley and I walked back a couple of beach houses over to where our family was staying, a couple of thoughts struck me.
First, I’m so proud of and thankful for Ashley. Second, we guys fished two mornings in a row, but in less than five minutes, Ashley did far more good by fishing for men.
And as our silver haired, fish eating friend says, “Peace out to you hippies!”
Makes me smile, even now.