Early yesterday afternoon I didn’t have much to do so I thought that I’d take a drive down to the beach. The weather wasn’t real warm, but the sun was shining and the wind wasn’t blowing for a change. The beach is only about 15 minutes from my apartment in San Fransisco, so I threw on my jeans and sweatshirt and headed out.
I sat on a towel in the sand reading my Kindle and watching a couple of brave souls paddle out and catch a few waves. After about 45 minutes I decided to take a walk and look for some sand dollars. As I walked along the water the waves were coming in and splashing around my feet while I picked up sea shells. I looked up and saw an older gentleman that appeared to be examining a shell he had found. As I approached I smiled and said hello there. He looked up with a sweet smile and bright blue eyes that matched his baseball cap and jacket, and said well hello to you young lady. Then he held out his hand and showed me the shells he’d been looking at and I showed him mine. He said would you like to take these and add them to your collection? Of course I would, thank you! He then reached into his pocket and pulled out a yellow plastic bag for me to put them in.
I said why aren’t you a handy man to have met? After putting the shells in the bag, I stuck out my hand and said my name is Gina, it’s a pleasure to meet you. What is your name? He said well, I’ll tell you my name but you have to be careful because it can be hard to pronounce. I said I’m pretty good with names why don’t you give me a shot? He replied my name is Axel. I said Axel, why that isn’t a difficult name to pronounce. He said Gina, do me a favor and say my name while holding your tongue with your fingers. I laughed and said OK. As I held my tongue and attempted to say Axel it came out sounding very much like A**hole, hehee He said now you see what I mean? We both laughed and I said well yes I do.
He told me that he was 87 years old and had lived at the beach since 1959. He took out his wallet and showed me pictures of when he was a handsome young motorcycle cop. He laughed and said when he was a cop and would write people tickets, as he drove away he could almost hear them calling him by his name. Awe Axel, you are too funny.
We walked along the beach talking about life and picking up shells. He spoke of his beautiful wife that had passed away almost 8 years ago, he still worn his wedding band. I told him all about my Pop that had died and how terribly my family misses him. He said we were lucky to have had them, I said indeed we were.
The tide had receded a bit, and I could see what looked like some sand dollars, so I walked out to take a closer look. The water was hitting just below my knees. As I was bending over trying picking up some sand dollars a wave came unexpectedly and almost completely knocked me down, I was soaked through and through. But, somehow managed not to fall down and came back up with 2 perfect sand dollars. Axel was shouting from the shore… young lady, young lady, you have to be careful that water can be powerful, you get out! We walked along a little further just chatting away. I was cold and wet and had a long trek back to where I had parked, so I thought it was best to say goodbye.
I shook Axel’s hand and said thank you for the walk, the talk the shells and the bag. And what a pleasure it was to have met him. He said it was very nice to meet you as well Gina, maybe we’ll run into one another again some time. I said that would be lovely, and on that note we turned and went our separate ways.
My jeans felt like they weighed 100 lbs, I was soaked and the bottom of them was covered in sand. I had a smile on my face and in my heart as I turned back around and could just barely see Axel walking along the shore in the distance. What had started off as a bit of a lonely day had been totally turned around by spending time with this sweet old man. I had found more than sand dollars and sea shells to add to my bag…a chance meeting at the beach would be the biggest treasure.
I was texting with my Mom and told her about meeting Axel. She said what special encounter and gift from God. Maybe you were his “Angel unaware” I said I think he might have been mine!
Axel or Angel? Quite possibly a little of both.