Dong. Dong. Dong. Lois woke abruptly from her nap to the chiming of the grandfather clock Benny had given her on their 25th wedding anniversary. She looked at the clock and realized it was 11:00 already. Time had passed quickly. Kindergartners would be getting out of school soon. She got out of her chair and went to the back door where she kept her pail of gardening supplies. She picked it up and headed out the front door. Lois wanted to see the little boy who had waved to her this morning and looked so much like her own little Henry but she needed a reason to be waiting out in her front yard. Gardening was her reason and besides, the front flower bed really did need weeding.
Lois sat down on the retaining wall she and Benny had built a long time ago and began pulling weeds. She kept her hands busy pulling weeds but her eyes were mostly following the mothers walking up to the front of the school. She didn’t want to miss her little Henry and his mama if she could help it. Her mind began to drift while her hands continued to pull weeds. She saw herself as she had been as a young woman and pictured herself walking up to the school with her own little Henry in tow. How she wished she’d gotten the chance to do that, among so many other things. She shook her head to bring her back into the present and wiped the tear off her cheek that had managed to escape. She looked up at the school and there were lots of children and their parents walking down the sidewalk or getting in their cars. Some cars were already easing out of the parking lot and she knew she had to stay alert if she were to see the little boy who looked so much like Henry.
Lois watched the crosswalk where a little girl was being directed by her mother to look both ways so they could cross the street. The little girl looked right at Lois, then looked the other direction and then looked back at Lois again. The little girl gave a little wave at Lois and then crossed the street with her mother. Lois was startled but gave a little wave back. When the little girl saw her return her wave, she began waving exuberantly until her mother looked at Lois. She gave a little wave too and they continued down the street. Lois continued to watch the crosswalk and almost every child who crossed gave her a wave. She waved back, not questioning her good fortune and enjoying every minute of it. She had even forgotten to keep weeding.
When little Henry came to the crosswalk, he looked right in her direction and gave a big wave. Lois stood up and waved at him. She wanted to make sure he knew she was waving at him. The little boy pulled on his mother’s arm and she leaned down to talk to him. He kept pointing at Lois and pulling on his mother’s hand. She stood up with a little shrug in her shoulder and the little boy and his mother crossed the street and headed in her direction. She hoped that meant they were coming to say hello to her.
As they approached, the mother awkwardly said, “Hi, my name is Julie and this is my son Johnny. We just wanted to come by and say hello. I hope we aren’t bothering you in any way.”
“Oh, that is so nice of you. I love to meet new people. My name is Mrs. Smith or Lois, either one will work for me. So, it’s Johnny, huh?” Lois asked.
He nodded his head. Now that he was here in front of Lois he was all shyness.
Julie nudged Johnny. “It’s your chance to say hello Johnny. Say hello.”
“Hello,” said Johnny.
“It’s nice to meet you. Did you have a good first day of school?” Lois asked.
And that’s all it took for Johnny to open up and tell her all about the first day of school and all the cool things they got to do. He explained just about every minute of the day so that they were there listening to Johnny for about fifteen minutes.
“Well, it’s probably time for us to go Johnny. Mrs. Smith probably needs to get back to her gardening,” said Julie.
“Nonsense,” said Lois, “the weeds will always be there but I won’t always have you two to visit with but I’m sure you have things to do.”
“We should probably be going,” said Julie.
“But can we come back tomorrow?” asked Johnny.
Lois couldn’t help the big smile that came to her face.
“Dear, you can’t invite yourself over to visit with other people. You can only invite them over to visit with you,” said Julie.
“Then, can she come over tomorrow Mommy?” asked Johnny.
Lois could see that Julie was getting flustered. “How about I meet you out here tomorrow after school again. I’d love to hear how your second day of school goes. I’ll even bring cookies,” said Lois.
Johnny began jumping up and down and crowing.
“Oh, that’s very nice of you Mrs. Smith, we’ll stop by but you don’t need to make cookies,” said Julie.
“Call me Lois and it’s no trouble to make cookies. In fact, it actually gives me something to do today.”
“Good-bye,” said Julie. “We’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Good-bye, good-bye, good-bye,” said Johnny as he jumped up and down while his mother held his hand.
They started walking back toward the crosswalk when Johnny pulled away from his mother and ran back to Lois.
“Can I call you Grandma ‘cause I don’t have one?” asked Johnny.
“Johnnnny!” came his mother’s startled response as she headed back towards us.
Lois waved her off and knelt down to Johnny’s level, “You know what Johnny, I would love that! I’ve never had anyone call me Grandma so you call me Grandma and come by and see me tomorrow and I’ll give you cookies. Sound like a plan?”
“Yeah! I love cookies,” said Johnny and he ran back toward his mother’s outstretched hand.
“Thanks and we’ll see you tomorrow,” waved Julie as they walked away.
Lois reached up and wiped away the tear that had managed to escape from her traitorous eye for the second time that morning.