Santa Cruz use to be an anual trip for us as kids. When we were younger, we would stay the night at my grandfather's house in San Jose, and then make the quick jaunt over the mountain in the morning to hit the beach for the day, and then enjoy some of the boardwalk at night.
I can mark the stages of my life by our activities there: the year I learned to body surf, the first year I grabbed a brass ring on the merry go round, the first year I made out with a guy I met on the beach.
But this morning one instance stood out. It was the year I realized my mother was fearless. I was about 5 or 6 and we were camped out on the beach as a family. We had it all: lawn chairs, my Ragedy Ann sleeping bag as a beach blanket, the ice chest and being the 70's, a hibachi grill.
At some point in the afternoon a beach bum approached our site. He wore baggy pants and a trench and had a not so faint smell of cheap wine and sweat.
"How about a hot dog," the man barked. We ignored him as he continued to ramble something about living on the beach. I turned and looked for my dad, who would surely sent this guy off, but as I did I heard my mother's cheerful voice behind me.
"Would you like mustard on that?"
We all looked around half stunned and half amused. She handed the man a neatly wrapped hotdog and he left. At the time we laughed about it, and how our fool hearty mother was oblivious to who was asking for a handout. But years later I realized it was a lesson in kindness, that I still remember now.
Happy Mother's Day Mom. Thanks for teaching me it's ok to show kindness when others are not.