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Bad Moment Turns to 14 Years of Grace

In the first place, I wouldn’t have expected to find such a story in Coastal Living magazine, and then I saw it was by a writer I know, Durham’s Barry Yeoman.

The story angle that made the piece fit into a magazine about coasts was the fact that it all took place near the water in Cadiz, Spain, where “Atlantic waves crash hard against a low stone wall.” But the courage Barry showed and the open-heartedness he encountered were what engaged me.  (And I’m pretty fond of crashing waves.)

The story he told:  Back in 1998, he was walking along a stone pier, passed a bunch of young guys on a bench, stopped when he thought they’d called out to him.  When he tried to speak, his stutter stopped him.  (A brother of mine stutters and I particularly admire people like him and like Barry who speak up anyway.)   The guys laughed when he’d gotten a couple of words out.   “I stormed off,” he writes, “but then turned around and went back.”

He told them he had a speech problem. “To my surprise, they admired my boldness and invited me into their fold.  They offered me drinks and the briny guts of a fresh-caught sea urchin.” (Talk about courage!)

That moment over many subsequent trips turned into “14 years of hospitality and grace,” of singing with them, meeting their families, watching them grow up and produce their own families.    All because he turned around and went back.

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