An excerpt from Wilbur Avenue

Abby loved to hang out at Richard’s house. It’s the coolest place on earth, she thought. Richard’s mom had passed away in a tragic car accident when he was younger and his father and grandmother were raising him. Individually, they were both a bit eccentric. Collectively, though, they provided the most nurturing and loving environment Abby had ever witnessed. Mr. Giles was the quiet one. Eunice Giles—or Grandma—was everything else.

Grandma wore her gray hair in a long braid, complemented by crow’s feet at the corners of her soft green eyes. Though well read and intelligent, Grandma was also very practical. Preferring people to anything trivial, she was great with children and bonded easily with them. She was a gifted cook, enjoyed all types of music, and lived for sunsets curled up under a blanket with a book. In warm weather, she walked around in loose-fitting clothes, with sandals framing her painted toes. When it was cold, heavy sweaters and a cup of hot tea were a given.

As the gang swarmed the table, Penny Lane by the Beatles played softly in the background.

 

Richard passed Grandma at the stove and put his hand on her shoulder.

 

She stopped him. “That’s it?” she asked, raising an eyebrow.

 

He gave her a kiss on the cheek before taking his seat at the kitchen table.

A banquet of favorites awaited the gang. Eggs, bacon, pancakes and a big bowl of macaroni & cheese—made special for Abby—were devoured within minutes. It was still enough time for Grandma to ask questions, give answers and make each of them know they were loved. With Paul McCartney’s classic lyrics playing sublimely in the background, she offered an attentive ear and a caring heart. “So what are you guys up to this morning?” she asked.

 

Richard shrugged. “I don’t know. We might head down to the railroad tracks or…”

 

“Railroad tracks?” she repeated, the concern thick in her voice. “You’d better be careful down there. The trains are still running, you know.”

“That’s what I told him,” Tracy jumped in, equally concerned for their safety.

Everyone shot Tracy a look of warning. Abby laughed under her breath.

 

“We’ll be careful,” Abby promised Grandma.

 

“What are you gonna do down there?” Grandma asked, still not satisfied.

“Explore,” Richard said.

 

“Explore?” She shook her head. “You can explore right in the backyard.”

 

“It’s not the same,” Richard said, finishing off his glass of milk.

“Yeah,” Grant interrupted. “We always find some really cool stuff down the tracks.”

Grandma looked at him, her eyebrow standing at attention again.

He shrugged. “Coins and…”

 

“And once we even found an arrowhead,” Vinny chimed in, trying to help sell the day’s adventure.

“An arrowhead, huh?” Grandma said.

“More like a pointy rock,” Tracy muttered under her breath.

This time, even Abby shot her a bad look.

 

Grandma thought for a moment and finally nodded. “Just be careful.”

 

“We will, Grandma,” Abby promised again.

 

As a hurricane of children blew out of the room, Grandma wrapped the whole thing up with a pat for each bum.

Abby watched as Richard kissed the kind woman. “Thanks, Grandma,” he said.

She returned the kiss. “You’re welcome,” she said, and looked at Abby. “What about you? I don’t get a kiss?”

 

Abby hurried to her and planted a big one on the woman’s warm cheek.

“Ahhh,” Grandma sighed. “You two have fun today, but remember what I said…be safe and stay together.”

“We will,” Abby said.

Richard agreed with a nod, and a grin.