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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