Kind Gestures by S. Webster

Chapter 17

Beth – 3:00 pm

She finds them on the swings in the park. They are dragging their toes through the dry dusty ground at each pass back and forth, back and forth.  She pauses and thinks how beautiful her boys are.  Sam has the dark curls and brown eyes of his father. Danny is fair like her and more fragile in build and personality. She is so proud of them. And so grateful for how close they are, how much they care for one another.  They see her coming toward them and slowly stop their swings.  She doesn’t notice how they look at each other and put smiles back on their faces. They are going to grandmas to spend the night and they both love going there. Grandma always makes cookies for them and Grandpa tells them such good stories.

“Hi there, boys, sorry I am late. Have you had a good time?” she asks them.

“Yes, mom,” they say together as each one takes hold of her hands.

They walk back to the car in silence. The boys because they are hot and tired, Beth because she is saying a silent prayer to God for making these precious boys part of her life.

George’s parents loved her and the boys. She had no doubt about that. And even though she never heard them say it, Beth had a feeling that they were not as happy with their son as they used to be. She thought George suspected this as well, and was now making it a point to spend more time with his parents. He’d show up at their house on his way to or from work and ask if they needed anything done around the house or yard. If they did, he told them, he could fit it in or send one of his workers over to take care of it. Beth thought these gestures probably meant more to Edith, her mother-in-law, than they did to Pastor John himself.

After a short trip home to pack up some things for the boys Beth drives up the long drive past the church and around back to the pastor’s house. As soon as the car stops, the boys pile out with a new burst of energy and run toward Edith who smells of fresh baked cookies and the lavender she has just picked from her garden.

“Be careful boys, don’t knock your grandmother over,” calls Beth.

Pastor John appears in the doorway and calls out, “Hello, you little devils. Give us a hug.”

He is a big man with short-cropped hair that has turned grey at the temples. As usual he is dressed in slacks and a white shirt, tie removed. His left hand holds a stack of papers that Beth assumes are notes for his Sunday sermon. His right arm goes around both boys as he stoops down to greet them.

“Can you stay for some lemonade and cookies, Beth?” asks Edith.

“Of course, Edith, George is still at work on a renovation job out east of town,”

Beth tells her as they take a seat at the table shaded by a large poplar tree.

“I think he told me something about that this morning when he came by for coffee on his way to work, Beth. Do you and George have anything special planned for tonight?” Edith asks.

Beth is watching the boys take their cookies and disappear around back where the Saunders keep their chickens. She turns back to Edith and says, “Just the quiet will be nice. And we want to go over the plans for fixing up the dining room.”

“He should have gotten to that long before now, Beth. I hope this time he sees it through,” Pastor John says as he steps off the porch and toward them.

“Now John, let it be,” Edith says softly.

“More lemonade, dear?” she asks.

“No, I should really be going,” Beth says.

“Let me call the boys to say good-bye.”

“No, let them play. They are having such a good time.”

“Tell them good-bye for me later when you put them to bed.”

“Enjoy your time alone, Beth,” Pastor John says.

“What time do you want us to bring them home tomorrow?” Edith asks.

“I’ll call in the morning and let you know.”

Beth makes one more stop before going to the diner to pick up the boxed salad she ordered earlier. She wants to find a nice red wine for later. A dark rich Tuscan red seems right and she has little trouble finding one in the wine section of the grocery store twenty minutes later. Returning to the car she lays the paper bag on the seat next to her and drives to the diner, the last stop on her list.