January 24, 2012
Editor’s Note: Carole Townsend, a correspondent for the Daily Post, is writing a blog called “Food for Thought.” It is available online at http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/townsend.
O.K. I’m thinking by now that you guys are probably sick and tired of me yammering on about my beach trip. So here goes another post about just that. Don’t stop reading; this one actually matters.
I have been doing pretty well writing – building – my next manuscript. I mean, if you can’t create in paradise, where can you create? I had had a full day of writing a couple of days ago and, tired of cooking every night and eating in, decided to take a walk down to the end of the boardwalk and check out the local seafood dive. There always seem to be a lot of people coming and going, and that’s a pretty good sign with respect to restaurants.
I paused about halfway across the boardwalk to take in the breathtaking sunset. The sun at this time of year is a fiery orange orb that seems close enough to reach out and touch, and as it sinks into the water’s edge, the effect is very moving, at least to me.
Anyway, as I stood there and watched the ocean slowly swallow up the sun, feeling a bit melancholy about missing my family, my reverie was disturbed by an uneven gait and soft voices. I turned to see the source of both and I have to admit, I was a bit irritated that the artsy spell I was enjoying had been broken so unceremoniously. What I saw, though, was something I’ll never forget, one of those few snapshots taken in a lifetime that you can look back on years later and still remember vividly.
An elderly couple, he tall and still physically strong, she with a cane and obviously suffering from a debilitating illness. They walked arm in arm, the husband speaking softly to his wife and guiding her safely across the boardwalk. They both paused and turned to look at the setting sun, smiling and so content with exactly where they were at that very moment, unaware that anyone else was looking on. I will never forget that image.
They were both dressed properly for dinner and I know, as any woman would have known, that he took the time to carefully help her, even right down to applying her makeup.
I realize I’m probably waxing sentimental here, but bear with me. It’s a rare occurrence. What I saw when I got a brief glimpse into that couple’s world was love, pain, patience, time, work, children, grandchildren, illness, sadness, joy, sacrifice and above all else, love. Looking at the two of them at that moment was a stolen privilege.
I had to laugh at myself as I headed on into the restaurant (excellent food, by the way). There I was, feeling all weepy and whiny about having the chance of a lifetime to pursue a dream I’ve had since I was a kid. I’m healthy, my family is healthy, and we are blessed beyond my understanding. The only other thing I could possibly think to hope for at the end of the day is to have what that couple has, when the sun sets.
I think it’s what we’re all racing toward and just don’t know it.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of the recently-released book, “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times and the Anniston Star, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on radio shows nationwide.