Mary lived near the Pensacola Naval Complex Beach, and she loved spending time looking at the ocean. But one day, she noticed a sad, lonely boy carrying the American flag. He came every day and just stared at the water until she asked him why. The answer was shocking and heartbreaking.
There's nothing like the ocean waves to relax after a long day, Mary thought as she sat down on her porch and contemplated the ocean. Her house was pretty close to Pensacola Naval Complex Beach, and she had lived there almost her entire life. She often saw soldiers, sailors, and pilots around the area.
Some of the greatest patriots in the country had started their careers in Pensacola, and her husband was one of them. Luckily, he came back from the war, and they had a wonderful life until he died of natural causes in his old age. Now, looking at the ocean felt like he was always around.
Mary loved watching the waves, but something caught her eye one day. | Source: Pexels
Suddenly, her eyes caught something. It was an American flag, and a little boy held it over his shoulders. He walked on the sand and sat down just at the edge where the waves didn't touch him. Mary stared at him for a while, and the boy did nothing but stare out into the horizon. Sometimes, she could see his shoulders moving as if he was sobbing.
Something made her stand straighter in her chair. "Tommy, look!" she pointed to the horizon.
The older woman worried about him and thought about bringing him a lemonade. But the boy stood up and left when the sun started to fade. Well, maybe next time, she thought and went inside to make dinner.
However, the boy returned every day, and when Mary saw that he started crying again, she started bringing him a lemonade.
"Thank you, ma'am," the little boy said one day after taking a glass from her and wiping his tears.
"Can I ask you something, dear?" she began, unable to hold her curiosity any longer. "Why do you come here every day? And why do you carry that flag?"
The little boy explained why he went to the beach every day. | Source: Unsplash
"I'm waiting for my father. He's coming soon," the little boy explained.
"Yes, he's in the navy, and he had an important mission. But he has to return soon," he continued, a hint of worry in his tone.
Mary frowned, hoping that the man was saved wherever his mission had taken him. "What's your name, dear?"
"Tommy," he said. "What about you?"
Mary laughed at the question because it seemed like this boy thought of her as a friend and not just an older lady. "My name is Mary, although you should probably call me Mrs. Finkle."
"It's nice to meet you," he said, looking up at her with his wide eyes and a smile, then staring back at the ocean.
"Why don't you come to my house," she offered, pointing back to her home. "It's that one over there. You can still watch the ocean, but you won't get burned in the sun. You're already red from coming every day."
They looked at the ocean from her porch and talked. | Source: Pexels
Tommy hesitated for a second, but he pursed his lips and nodded at last. He stood up and followed Mary to her house. They chatted on the porch while eating cookies and lemonade, and Mary thought it was one of the most pleasant afternoons ever.
They did that every day for a week, and she finally asked him about his home life while making cookies together. "I don't like being at home. My stepmom and stepsister are mean to me," he answered, helping her make little balls with the dough.
"Oh, but surely it's not so bad. They are your family after all," Mary commented absentmindedly.
"No, they don't act like it. They tell me Dad isn't coming back all the time," Tommy continued, and Mary stopped what she was doing. She stared at him, pursing her lips, and felt like she understood him at last.
Tommy helped Mary bake the cookies they ate later that afternoon. | Source: Pexels
"Well, then. You can always come here, and we'll wait for your father together. I'm sure he's coming back soon," she told him with a gentle grin, and Tommy was pleased with her words.
They sat on the porch and stared at the ocean as they always did that afternoon. The older woman thought about calling the naval base and talking to someone about Tommy's father, though they might not give her any information. But something made her stand straighter in her chair.
"Tommy, look!" she pointed to the horizon. There was a massive naval vessel in the distance, and it was going to the base, which was a few miles away from Mary's home.
"It's a ship!!" Tommy cheered, standing up from the chair. He picked up the flag and ran toward the coast, waving it in the air. Mary followed slowly, and they both rejoiced at the idea that his father had returned.
After spotting the ship, Mary drove him to the naval base and asked around. | Source: Pexels
Mary offered to drive him to the naval base, and they asked if Tommy's father, Angus Cline, had returned on the ship. They were told that his father was just transported to the local hospital because he had suffered an injury during an explosion in their vessel.
Mary drove Tommy there, and they reunited dearly, explaining how he waited at the beach then Mary's house every day. When Tommy asked why it had taken so long for him to return, Angus said they still needed to complete their mission, and it took longer for unexpected reasons. But apparently, he had been calling them with updates all the time.
"I don't understand. Your mom should've told you about my delay. I called once a week at least," Angus commented, and Tommy started crying.
Angus and Tommy became part of her family, and Mary forgot about her loneliness. | Source: Pexels
"No, she never told me anything," he wailed and hugged his father, almost climbing into his hospital bed.
Angus was furious, and he eventually divorced his wife. He bought a house near Mary's, and she became the grandmother Tommy never had. Angus soon retired from the navy, got a typical job, and was never apart from his family again.
Mary didn't realize how alone she was until Tommy and Angus came into her life. She was never alone again.
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