When I was younger, I used to spend my summers camping with my family. We would always go to the same camp ground called Golden Beach Resort. We were unsure as to why it was called this because the beach was about as wide as a row of desks in a classroom and full of reeds. What we really went for was the fishing. In between fishing excursions we would would pass time at the pool and go for lunch at the campground restaurant.
I remember one day in particular when the pool was especially full. People were jumping in everywhere, there were balls being thrown and noodles shooting water everywhere. I turned to yell something to my brother when a splash and a loud smacking sound exploaded in front of my face. I realised it was a sunhat and picked it up to throw it back at the person. A group of elderly people waved at me to throw it back to them. I did and went back to my brother only to have the hat smack the water again behind me.
This continued for days. I'd show up to the pool and these old people would throw this hat at me. One of them looked like Santa, the other Santa's wife, and the other kind of like a walking beachball with a cowboy hat.
Finally, one day, instead of throwing the hat back, I went over and spoke with them. Santa's name was Art. Mrs. Clause was Janet. And the beachball's name was Johnny, but he invited me to call him Grumpy.
I told my parents about Art, Janet, and Grumpy and he came to the pool to meet them. After this, my parents and Grumpy met for coffee every morning to listen to his stories. He used to work for a hospital, he just learned how to read and write, he played guitar and was in a folk band as a youth. I would sit for hours and listen to his stories while we played cards.
Every summer we went back to Golden Beach Resort to see Johnny. We found out about his fixed income and invited him over for dinner every night and afterwards he would sit with me to play guitar. When we weren't at the camp ground, Johnny would write us letters every month. But the letters stopped when we got a phone call from his wife, who we'd never met as she never went camping.
Johnny died of a heart attack in 2008. But his photo is still tucked next to our best catches on the bulletin board in our trailer.