Our next-door neighbors built their house the fall and winter we built ours. And they moved into their home the same weekend in February 1989 that we occupied ours. Peggy carried a babe in arms, the third of three girls.
About ten years Peggy’s senior, my two teenaged daughters supervised building snow forts that winter with Peggy’s first-grader and preschooler. My eldest attended Hillsdale College in her freshman year.
Peggy and I enjoyed this season of building new friendships and our children’s futures. Come spring, we led our girls into the woods behind our property. There we discovered trillium and Jack in the pulpit. Later that summer, Peggy and I spied wild blackberries along our road. She baked a pie. I prefer cobbler.
Then Alyce, Peggy’s baby, learned to run. We held our breath as Alyce stumbled willy-nilly down their rocky and hilly landscape. She’d fall and roll, find her feet, and repeat her favorite play of giving her mother chase.
After our firstborn daughter died in 1996, Peggy’s oldest child, also named Becky, walked over to our garage where I removed name cards from funeral arrangements.
With tears, Becky asked, “Mrs. Underwood, why did Becky die?”
We consoled each other with a long embrace. I truly cannot remember my answer.
That evening, Peggy delivered her famous pepper steak and mashed potatoes to our kitchen door.
Fast forward twenty-six years and five weddings later. Two for my daughters. Three for Peggy’s.
And this past Friday, of all blessed things, the birth of Alyce’s third child, a girl, much anticipated in the mix of two very rambunctious boys.
The wonderful news drifted from Peggy’s backyard to mine at twilight Friday night as I deadheaded flower beds trailing our backyard steps. Alyce’s two boys giggled and squealed. “Stop it, boys. I’ll have to take you into the house!” Peggy said. Nana was babysitting again, and the joyful sound meant Alyce had presented her little princess to the world. All was well. I planned to walk over with congratulations once I’d disposed my weeds and parked my golf cart for the night.
However, there came Peggy walking over the hill toward me with a smile only a new grandmother can genuinely produce. “Alyce had her baby yesterday!”
We strolled to her backyard where her grandsons walked the edge of a sandbox built with 2x4s in a contest to make it back to their starting point without falling off. Peggy showed me photos on her cellphone. At last, there was Alyce holding her plump newborn with dark hair.
“So, what did they name her?” I asked.
The boys repeated her name as they navigated the sandbox squealing and laughing.
“Boys! I’m going to take you inside!” Peggy warned.
Dear Reader, those little guys knew Nana wasn’t serious about interrupting their blissful play, or her conversation with Mrs. Underwood.
Let Taylor Lee’s brothers enjoy the moment, I thought. When she learns to run at Nana’s house, she’ll steal their show, as the saying goes.
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