Dear Unknown Family...
You missed a wonderful window.
One of the things that I enjoy most about photographs on the beach is that there are always other people around as subject matter, with the beach environment as a fantastic backdrop. Watching the sunset has become such a ritual on the coast as people gather by the hundreds to watch every sunset, every day. And people ascend on the beaches of the world, from everywhere – different countries different states. Some are on vacation, others are traveling the region, or the country. But we usually know (intuitively) about the ritual of beach sunsets, and untold numbers gather at that time a day - on the beaches of the world - with friends and family to enjoy the spectacle.
This weekend was no different – and as I took out my camera and began to snap pictures with the sun going down, I noticed a family that had arrived, and were playing and walking around - just for the sunset time - as they had on regular clothes, rather than swim suits.
The grandfather standing close by began to strike up a conversation with me, asking if I knew the best places to stay in the area - which of course, I don’t, since we live here. It’s always interesting to hear about others, and their life, and he proceeded to share that he and his wife recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and decided to take the entire family to Disneyworld, in Orlando.
They also took a side trip to visit a brother with declining health in our area, and the Grandfather convinced the family to drive a bit further to see the beach, since some of this children and grandchildren had never seen it before. His children appeared to be in their forties, so it’s amazing to me when I hear that someone has never seen the beach, and they are halfway through their life! Yet, they were here, and taking it in for the few moments they had before packing up and heading back to Indiana.
If you’ve been to the beach at sunset, you know that most everyone is taking pictures with their smartphones, and then a few of us are taking pictures of them, while they are taking pictures of themselves. So, it’s fun to ask and offer to take a picture for them, so that everyone can be included. And that’s the offer I made to this gentle man, to get a picture of the entire family on the beach, at sunset, with my “big-girl camera”. In my mind, why wouldn’t you do that? Most people jump at the chance, and I just give them my email address to contact me, in order to send the pictures to them, later. For the most part, I hear from them the next day, and they are thankful for the additional shots to add to their own collection.
But, this time was really different.
The grandfather began his attempt to round up the family for a couple of photos before the sun went down, but this family wasn’t budging. The son and daughter “parents” were completely disinterested - stating at one point that the kids had their pictures taken all week with characters at Disney and they were “done” with it.
It’s the 50th anniversary of your parents.
They’re all gathered together, on the beach, at sunset — and it’s, likely, the only time this will ever happen for this family. It took some of them years to get here.
So they missed the moment.
And it really disappointed me… for them.
Because I would treasure any photos I had of my family ALL gathered together on the beach, at sunset — especially as the family grows up, and things change.
Maybe others don't count it as special -- but they should.
It’s truly a treasure to have, if you’re lucky enough. Crazy thing is… my own family doesn't have this type of photo, (and the beach has been my family’s second home all their life). I’m thrilled to help make it happen for others, and believe we will get our own… soon.
Yet, it won’t include my parents.
Because that window has already passed. And when the window passes, it’s gone forever.
That window probably passed for this family, as well — or maybe they will come back, again. Somehow, I doubt it. It just might not be a priority, for them. They didn’t even take advantage of my offer — in the golden moment.
The children grow, and the grandparents get older, declining in their ability to travel and do things.
You just never know.
It’s my passion, of course, (sunsets and photography) but I’ve never had anyone refuse that type of opportunity.
So, I took pictures, as I always do - of people with sandy toes, enjoying the sunset on the beach, with each other.
And, I’ll always know I have a treasure, that should belong to this unknown family — and they lost it.