On one overly warm Sunday afternoon, I phoned and invited Molly and Quincy, two teen-aged granddaughters––cousins to each other––to go “alley walking” with me. These girls are intense, and keep to tight schedules even in the summer. Puzzled by my invitation, they agreed.
No cell phones allowed, except mine, which was off.
As we ambled along, talking and seeing all the interesting stuff one sees in back yards, Molly asked me to tell her “my plan for this walk.”
“No plan,” I said. “We’ll walk until we get tired, then we’ll turn toward home.”
She scowled. “I mean, what’s our schedule?”
“No schedule. No structure. No plan,” I said. “We’re just going to walk and talk and see stuff.”
Along the way, I pointed out the back of the large frame house where their great, great grandfather lived when he came to McAlester on horseback with one of his brothers. It was the beginning of the 20th Century.
“The house was called ‘The Batch,’” I said. “Joe Johnson was 21 years old, just a few years older than you are now. It was a rooming house for young, single men. He took his meals there. His brother John rode on, but your great, great granddaddy liked McAlester and decided to stay. With money his dad had given him, he began a wholesale grocery venture. He worked hard and did well. He married the daughter of a local doctor, and had a family. He was a Presbyterian. His wife had been the first infant baptized in the Episcopal church here. Joe was a mason, a charter member of the Elks club and the country club and several other civic and social organizations.”
The girls asked questions and drew mental pictures of their common ancestor and what his life was like, pictured him walking down this same alley behind this same house all those years ago.
An hour later, after we had marveled at swimming pools and bunny cages, even a bobcat in a coop, my son, Molly’s dad, stopped his car at an intersection. He had been looking for us.
“Anyone want a ride?” he asked, arching his eyebrows.
We were perspiring freely by then. None of the three of us responded. I was leaving it up to the girls.
“Actually, Dad,” Molly said finally, “I think I’ll stay with Nana, if you don’t mind.”
“How about if we all go have ice cream?” A tempting offer, indeed.
“Maybe later, Dad.”
Obviously taken aback, he looked at me. I shrugged.
“Dad, did you know about ‘The Batch’?” his daughter asked.
He nodded and grinned, enlightened, then regarded me again.
“You told them about their great, great grandfather, did you?”
It was my turn to grin. “Yes.”
He laughed remembering alley walking with his brother and sisters years before, and his dad, my husband, telling stories about generations of his family involved in the development of our hometown.
“I could leave the car here and go with you,” he offered.
Molly said sweetly, “No, thanks, Dad. We’ll catch up with you later.”
The girls and I walked a while longer before we turned toward home, sweating, relaxed, and closer than before. There were no electronics involved.
Read MEMORY, my newest romantic/suspense novel, in print or online at http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?f=001jYBgN4_ak8cH5cCSYu8uj-