One day Marilyn was happily playing in the apartment when the phone rang. As usual, Mother was working in the kitchen. She came into the living room to answer the phone. Mother’s thin face clouded with worry as she whispered to Marilyn, “Go get your dad.” Then Mother continued talking on the phone. Marilyn hurried into her parents’ bedroom where Dad was.
“Dad,” she said. “Mother wants you.”
“Okay,” he said, smiling at her and leaving the room. Marilyn went back to her toys. Then Dad came over and said, “Come on, Marilyn, we need to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”
“Right now?” she asked. She liked going to her grandparents’ house, but they usually only went on Sundays, and today was not a Sunday.
“Yes,” Dad replied.
“Why?” asked Marilyn, seeing worry on her Dad’s face as well.
“Come here, honey,” he said, taking her on his knee. “Marilyn, your Uncle Crawford went to be with Jesus.”
“He died?” she said, sadness crossing her face as well. He had been very sick the last few weeks, but since he was only thirty, Marilyn had not thought he would die. Her last memories of him flashed through her head.
“Yes, but he is with Jesus so we do not have to be very sad, okay?” Dad explained.
“He is with Jesus,” Marilyn muttered. “Then I will not see him again?”
“You will see him in heaven one day,” Dad said, hugging her tightly. “His spirit is with Jesus now.”
“I am glad he is with Jesus,” Marilyn said.
“We all are,” Dad sighed as he recalled Crawford’s recent decision to accept Jesus. Crawford had thought he did not deserve salvation because of the way he had lived. His family had finally convinced him that Jesus would have died just for him. It was not a matter of deserving it, it was a matter of accepting it.
Soon they were all in the car heading to Grandma and Grandpa Black’s house. Arrangements were made, and they all returned the next day as well.
As Marilyn entered her grandparent’s living room, she saw that everyone was wearing black, even pretty Irene Miller, the lady Uncle Crawford had planned to marry in September. Everyone was crying and there were flowers everywhere. Marilyn did not like seeing Uncle Crawford’s dead body lying in a casket in the dining room. She felt troubled. Her grandparents came over and said hello. Marilyn knew that they were very sad, but they seemed to find joy in her, their little granddaughter, being there. Everyone hugged Grandma and Grandpa Black, but Grandma seemed inconsolable. It was a sad day.
A few days later, Grandma Black finally allowed her son to be buried. Marilyn went with her parents to the cemetery. Marilyn gently laid flowers on Uncle Crawford’s grave. She and her parents stood together looking at the fresh dirt.
“Mabel,” Dad said. “We can’t let your mother be alone at night.” Marilyn looked over suddenly. What did Dad mean?
“I agree, Charles,” Mother said. “Father works night shift. Nighttime has been so hard for her. We need to go be with her.”
After talking it over with Grandma and Grandpa Black, it was settled. Dad and Mother explained to Marilyn that they were going to go live with her grandparents. Marilyn was excited, for she loved her grandparents so much. Soon they packed up and moved into Grandma and Grandpa Black’s house.
Marilyn went with her grandparents three or four times a week to visit her uncle’s grave. They would take a scrub brush and some Bon Ami cleanser and clean the bronze plaque until it shone. One day, however, they drove past the cemetery and out of town.
“Where are we going?” Marilyn asked.
“We are going to the farmer’s market,” Grandma explained as they drove out of town.
“Oh, please, Grandma, can we have a watermelon?” Marilyn pleaded as she stood pointing at a crate of watermelons.
“Sure,” said Grandma Black, looking for just the right one. When she thought she had found it, she asked the clerk if she could try it. He quickly pulled out his pocket knife and cut a small triangle out of the watermelon. Grandma tasted it, Grandpa too. They offered a bite to Marilyn. It was incredibly juicy and delicious. “We’ll take this one,” Grandma said to the clerk as she plugged it with the triangular piece. Grandpa paid for the watermelon and the other produce, then placed the watermelon in the middle of the back seat. Grandma put the bag of produce beside it, and Marilyn sat on the other side. Then they drove off.
Marilyn, wanting more of that delicious watermelon, took the plug out and stuck her hand into it. She pulled out handfuls and ate bite after bite. The watermelon was so good; Marilyn could not stop eating it. The car stopped and Marilyn realized they were home. Grandma opened the car door and looked down at Marilyn. “Marilyn Elaine Elliott, you ruined your dress!” she yelled, seeing the juice soaking Marilyn’s dress and dripping down her arm onto the back seat. Grandma Black hurried her into the house where Marilyn met her mother’s stern look.
“Marilyn, your dress is ruined!” Mother moaned, as she pulled her into the bathroom and put a clean dress on her. Then they went into the kitchen and saw Grandpa setting the watermelon on a cutting board. Grandma took a sharp knife and cut the watermelon open to reveal that Marilyn had eaten almost the whole thing! Everyone gasped. “Marilyn,” Mother chided. Then Dad stepped in, took one look at the watermelon, and laughed.
That September Marilyn started kindergarten. She did well in school and made some friends, including the twins at the end of the street, Patty and David Langley. One day Marilyn went to visit them. She liked going to their house because David had a dog. The only problem was that Marilyn was allergic to dogs. She had always wanted a puppy, but every time she got one, her asthma would act up and they would have to sell it.
Thus, Marilyn was sneezing and coughing on the way home from her friend’s house. She was almost home when she noticed some construction workers by the sidewalk. She did not know what they were doing and walked past them carelessly. Then she started sinking into the sidewalk. She suddenly realized that she had stepped in wet concrete. She pulled out her feet, which were covered in clumps of cement, and ran home crying. One of the construction men started yelling at her for messing up their work.
“Mother!” she cried. “Look what happened!”
“Oh, my!” said Mother. “Outside immediately!” Marilyn ran back outside, still crying, and Mother took her shoes off.
“Don’t worry, dear,” Mother said “We will get you new shoes. Just don’t go running in wet cement again!” Marilyn definitely learned her lesson.
Two weeks later, Marilyn was playing dolls in her room when she heard Grandma Black call, “Marilyn, your friend has come to see you!” Marilyn ran to the front door.
“Hello, Patty!” she said. “I am glad you have come!”
“I am glad, too.” Patty said. “Mother said I could visit for a little bit.”
“Well, be good, girls!” Grandma Black said and went to her room.
“Let’s go play in the basement,” Marilyn said. “I like to play kitchen down there.”
The stairs were made of slat wood and they had no rail. The girls ran their hands along the cinder block walls as they crept down. They could not see well in the darkness, but they could feel the dampness in the air. Marilyn pulled a string and the light bulb came on, revealing Mother’s many things she had stashed down there. Marilyn grabbed a pan from one of the wooden crates and said, “Come on! Let’s make some soup.” Patty pulled a wooden spoon and some bowls from the same crate. Marilyn went upstairs and filled the pot halfway with water. When she came back she saw Mother’s metal spice containers on a shelf. Soon both girls were dumping spice after spice into the water. Before long, nearly all of Mother’s spices were in the pot. Marilyn was having a grand time until she heard the basement door creak open.
Mother came down the stairs and asked, “Marilyn, what are you doing?”
“Making soup, Mother,” she said. Then Mother noticed the spice cans all over the floor.
“You ruined my spices! Marilyn, go upstairs right now!” she yelled. Marilyn knew not to argue with Mother.
“I have to leave,” Patty said, feeling very awkward. Marilyn headed up the stairs. Patty followed her and then slipped out the front door. Mother came up and gave Marilyn a spanking with her hand. It did not hurt too much, but Marilyn knew Mother was angry at her. She told herself that she must do better next time.
Soon Grandma was well enough that Marilyn and her family could move into an apartment. Her grandparents sold their house and moved into an apartment as well. Marilyn missed living with her grandparents. She would never forget the many memories she had made at their old house.