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Retirement is good in a number of ways. You can get up when you want, go to bed when you want and there's no particular routine you have to follow if doesn't suit your fancy. Still, it has drawbacks. If you're not normally gregarious and don't attend church and live in a rural area, almost inevitably you're going to find yourself becoming more and more isolated, like we are here in East Texas. With our daughter Jennie working overseas and her own adult children, Robyn and Gretchen living in different states, Amanda and I both began to feel the loneliness creeping in. That's why company was always a welcome event for us, especially the granddaughters. We loved to talk to them, listen to their dreams and aspirations as their lives stretched endlessly before them, or so they thought. They had no conception of how fast the years would pass, how soon they would be just like us; old folks wanting, even needing company to brighten their routine and introduce a few changes into the same old every day routine.
The thing is, when we did have visitors, we almost always received a call in advance from whomever it was, telling us when they would arrive, how long they'd stay and so on. So it was a real surprise when the doorbell rang one day and our granddaughter Robyn stood there in the entrance, holding the handle of a suitcase that trailed behind her like a faithful little puppy. She was trying to smile at us but it wasn't going well. It looked forced, as if she was maybe hiding something. It didn't matter. We were glad to see her under any circumstances.
"Robyn!" Amada said, giving her a huge hug. "What a nice surprise! Comeon in."
"Hi Grannie, hi Grandpa. I'm sorry I didn't call. I was in a hurry, sort of."
"It's okay, sweetheart," I said, giving her a hug in turn and taking her suitcase. I wheeled it on into the spare bedroom while Amanda busied herself in the kitchen, getting a fresh pot of coffee going, taking cookies from the freezer and popping them into the microwave and setting out cups and saucers. She didn't offer Robyn a soda. Unlike most kids of her generation, she preferred her caffeine in coffee, probably from her girlish imitation of us when she was younger.
When I returned, Robyn was still standing in the living room, a kind of blank expression on her face, as if just realizing she here, but having no earthly idea why she'd come.
"Sit down, baby. You look tired," I said. I put my arm around her shoulder and led her over to the big couch, the one she always liked to curl up on and read when she was a child and we had her for a few days.
"I'm not really tired, Grandpa. In fact, I'm not really sure why I'm here, without even calling or anything. I just…" A puzzled expression crossed her face, like someone waking from a vivid dream and realizing they're back in the real world.
"Maybe you needed a rest, child," Amanda said. "You're looking a little peaked."
Robyn nodded, embarrassed. "I know, Grannie. I haven't slept much the last couple of days. I kept waking up and thinking I needed to come see you and Grandpa."
I smiled. "Well, you're here now. Feel any better?"
"I guess," she said miserably. "It's just so crazy. Danny said I was acting silly."
"Danny. Is that your new fellow?"
"Uh huh. I've been seeing him a couple of months. Living with him, really. I wanted him to come with me, but he wouldn't. He said I was acting like a hysterical woman." I could see tears beginning to gather in her eyelashes, ready to overflow.
Robyn was a pretty girl, tall and slim with honey colored hair. I thought back to my youth and couldn't imagine any young man not wanting to accompany her, or do whatever it took to make her happy.
"Justin, honey, would you pour the coffee for us?" Amanda asked.
"Huh? Oh, sure." I got the hint. Mandy wanted to say a few words in private to Robyn. Of course she'd tell me later but she was thoughtful that way, not wanting to embarrass the girl if it was heart trouble of some sort, the emotional kind.
I busied myself longer than I really needed to, emptying the grounds and washing the basket, then pouring the coffee. After that I got down a thermal carafe to keep it fresh in case anyone wanted more. Personally, I thought Robyn could use a drink more than anything else. I was tempted to add a dollop of brandy her cup but resisted the impulse.
Copyright © 2007 Darrell Bain.