Gramps Kept His Promise

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In the fall of 1943 I climbed into my old Ford to visit a friend who had recently lost her father-in-law. The funeral had taken place four months before  but I Had been too ill to attend.

As I drove along I began to realize how much Ruth and  her six children would miss Gramps, for he had been their  right-hand man. He always prepared the vegetables for dinner and helped with the dishes. He was such a  cheerful person too.  How he had  enjoyed his prank of untying Ruth’s  apron at inopportune moments!

I recalled my last visit to  the modest  farm house on  Route I, out of Kokomo, Indiana. Gramps had hinted that his time was growing short but had vowed to return after  death, if possible.

I turned into the narrow lane bordered with petunias  and parked the car as usual at the side entrance. After kicking my way through colorful leaves, I rapped on the door.  There was  no answer. I rapped again and again. Suddenly,  the door burst open. Ruth, white-faced and shaking, drew  me inside.

“Mary! Am I ever glad to see you! I’ve just had the most frightening experience.”

Ruth told me  she had  just finished ironing in the living  room and  was carrying an armful of clothing to her  bedroom. When she reached the doorway, she felt a slight tug on her apron strings. Her apron fell to the floor.

After taking  two or three steps into the bedroom, she turned about,  puzzled. There, framed  in the doorway, was Gramps with his familiar one-sided smile and his ever-present red bandana dangling from his jacket! the two surveyed each other for a moment.

“Is it really you, Gramps?” Ruth had whispered.  The figure nodded its head, smiled wistfully, and then it  faded  from view,  Ruth, motionless with amazement, finally realized someone was knocking  on the kitchen door.  Gathering all her courage, she dashed to let me in.

As she finished telling me this, I looked  past her  into the  living room. There, in the doorway to her  bedroom, lay her  crumpled apron!

Mary J. Arnett

 Euclid, Ohio

December 1964

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