The man sat in a chair on the pier, carefully weaving palm leaves into tiny rosettes as tourists passed him by. A sign sat by his side: Please Help. I’ve fallen on hard times.
He wore glasses, and for that I was glad. But his face was deeply, darkly tanned, and grizzled from too much sun and perhaps other unhealthy habits. My children and I walked by him, distracted by the water and waves, when suddenly a boy came out of nowhere. He was about ten or eleven, and he walked right up to the man.
“Can I give you a hug?” he asked.
“What?” asked the man, not unkindly.
“Can I give you a hug?”
The man looked at him, bemused, and said, “Sure.”
And then the boy hugged the man, his smooth youthful arms around the leathery old man. And I watched the man’s face relax and break out into a smile. The boy smiled back. And then he disappeared into the crowd.
Little graces are everywhere. I hug my children and remember that the old man was once young like them.