As the end of the school year came near, the boys began planning their summer. Haden and Kyle were completing work on their Master Degrees and Amy would be completing her Ph.D. She would still need to defend her dissertation. The vegetable garden had been planted and Wilson volunteered to help. Adam and Brody accepted the offer providing he took a share of the vegetables.
Rita and Darrell agreed to allow Brody to work with Harvey when he had an electrical job in the Sparks area. Wilson would be earning extra money taking care of Dr. Hall's lawn as well as his rental property. This would only be about two or three days a week, but he was happy to have the extra money. Not to be left out, Darrell agreed to let Adam work at the store two days a week.
"Before you boys get involved in other activities, I want you to take the dogs to the vet for their shots," Darrell stated. "I called Dr. Ramsey's office and they said to bring them in tomorrow at 10:00."
The dogs were excited about going for a ride; little did they know they were getting shots. They were reluctant to go inside but Adam seemed to have a talent for calming them down.
"Good grief, you boys have grown since I last saw you," Dr. Ramsey remarked. "Bring Brandy and Lucky in and we'll get them taken care of."
"Dr. Ramsey, where did you go to vet school?" Adam asked as Dr. Ramsey began checking the dogs.
"University of Kentucky, are you interested in becoming a vet?" Dr. Ramsey asked.
"I'd like to if I'm smart enough," Adam said.
"Oh, believe me you're smart enough," Dr. Ramsey assured him. "It isn't easy, but you could do it."
"That's what I told him," Brody offered.
"What about you, Brody?" Dr. Ramsey asked.
"Want to be an electrical engineer," Brody said.
"That's a good profession," Dr. Ramsey said. "Adam, would you be interested in working for me this summer? It'd be on my surgery days which are Tuesdays and Thursdays."
"Sure," Adam quickly responded. "But I'd better ask Mom and Dad first."
"Damn, I'm the only one not working this summer," Justin said when learning of Adam's job offer. "And now you have two jobs."
"I don't need two jobs," Adam confessed. "I'll ask Dad if you can work at the store instead of me."
"That would be great," Justin said.
A few days later Haden found his brothers cleaning up after their breakfast. "Did you guys already have breakfast?"
"Yeah, there's no bacon left, but I can fix you some eggs and sausage," Adam offered.
"No thanks, I had breakfast with Kyle this morning," Haden said. "He's helping with a football camp. I have a job for us this morning."
"What job?" Brody asked with skepticism.
"I drove by the Miller Cemetery and it needs some attention," Haden explained. "I thought we should go mow it before Grandpa does it by himself. I've already hooked onto Dad's trailer. I need the key to the mower to load it."
"While you load the mower I'll get the ice chest and some water," Adam offered.
"I have water already," Haden said. "Get the weed eater so we'll have two."
"You're right, it does need mowing," Brody said when they arrived at the cemetery.
With the three brothers working it didn't take long to mow the small cemetery. As they were loading the mower onto the trailer a car pulled into the parking area. After parking, an elderly couple approach them and the woman asked, "Are you young men responsible for mowing the cemetery?"
"We are," Haden said.
"Thank you so much," she said. "I'm Helen Lock and this is my husband Jack. Let me give you some money for mowing."
"No, we can't take your money," Haden said. "Our great-great-grandparents are buried here. They were Millers."
"Goodness, my grandparents were Millers too," Helen said.
"I bet you and Grandpa Walter are related," Adam said.
"Yes we're cousins," Helen said. "Our mothers were sisters. I'd love to see him. I haven't seen him in years."
"He and Grandma are nearby at the Reed Center," Haden said. "They sometimes volunteer with the senior meals. We can show you where it is, it's the old Reed School."
"Oh, I wondered what they did with the old Reed School," Helen said. "I went to school there until I was 10 and my parents moved to Ohio. "Let me put my flowers on the graves and we'll follow you there."
"She seems nice," Brody said.
"Of course she is, she's Grandpa's cousin," Adam said.
Walter and Grace had just finished serving and were having their own meal when the boys came in with Helen and Jack. "Grandpa we met someone at the Miller Cemetery that you know," Haden said.
"Oh my God! Helen, I would have known you anywhere," Grace said.
Helen was speechless until Grace said, "I'm Grace and we were best friends until you moved away."
"Grace, I had no idea you'd marry Walter," Helen said as she gave each a hug. "This is my husband Jack."
After exchanging greetings Grace said, "Have a seat and I'll fix you a plate. Adam and Brody come and help me. You boys may as well eat too."
"It does look good," Jack said as he took a seat.
"Grandma is a great cook," Adam said as he went to the kitchen with Grace and Brody.
"So, Jack, are you from Ohio?" Walter asked.
"I am and I was lucky enough to meet this wonderful woman when we were in high school," Jack said as he patted Helen's hand.
"Thank you, Grace," Helen said as Grace handed her and Jack their plates.
The boys brought in glasses of ice tea and plates for themselves. The boys quickly began enjoying their grandma's chicken and dumplings.
"Grace, this is best chicken and dumplings I've ever had," Helen said. "I recall that your mother was a good cook too."
After eating Haden said, "Guys, let's go clean the kitchen so Grandpa and Grandma can visit."
"What nice young men," Helen said. "They had just finished mowing the cemetery and it looked really nice."
"So that's what they were up to," Walter smiled.
"We do have some wonderful grandchildren," Grace said. "Adam and Brody are adopted, but they're still our grandsons."
"Do you have grandchildren?" Grace asked.
"Yes, we have three, but don't see them often," Helen said. We only have one daughter and her husband is in the military."
"How long will you be in the area?" Walter asked.
"We planned on going back home tomorrow, but now that we found you we may stay a few more days," Helen said as Jack nodded in agreement.
"You'll stay with us while you're here," Grace ordered. "We need to catch up on old times."
"Thank you, that would be nice," Helen said. "Do you live nearby?"
"We have a few acres near Covington," Walter said. "I was a groundskeeper for the University and Grace was a cook for the school system there."
"I was a bank teller and Jack sold farm equipment," Helen said.
"Jack, you'll laugh when you see my farm equipment," Walter said. "I garden with a mule."
"I've only gardened with a tiller, I'd like to see how it's done with a mule," Jack said.
"Our kids and grandkids use tillers," Walter said.
"Grandpa and Grandma, you'll have to bring them to the cookout tomorrow," Haden said.
"Oh yes, thanks for reminding me," Grace said. "You'll meet some more family members as well as friends. Walter and I had three children. Brenda's the oldest and is Haden's mother. However, Brenda and Darrell are divorced and he's now married to a wonderful woman. You'll like Rita and she's like a daughter to me - us. Brenda is a very bitter person and is no longer in contact with us. We also have a son Scott and a daughter Julie. And we have some of the cutest grandkids you ever saw. I know we look young, but we also have great-grandchildren. You'll learn that the grandkids' friends also call us grandma and grandpa."
"Our oldest grandson is in college and the other two are still in high school," Helen explained.
It was a large gathering at the swimming hole picnic area the next day. "Mom, could I go swimming?" Dustin asked right away.
"You may go when your dad or I go or when Haden gets here to watch you," Lacey said.
"Mom, Justin, Adam and Brody are already swimming," Dustin pointed out.
"I'm not sure the boys should be watching you," Lacey said.
"But, Mom, they're men," Dustin argued. "They have man hair."
After the laughter died down Lacey said, "Alright, Adam and Justin, will you keep a close eye on him?"
"I will, but he's a really good swimmer," Adam said.
"I know," Lacey admitted, "but I'll feel better if you're watching him."
"I don't even like him," Justin joked.
"Yeah you do," Dustin said with a giggle.
The swimming hole was nearly full with both young and older when Perry, Darrell, and Ray finished grilling. The swimmers were quick to respond to the announcement the food was ready.
"Grandma, your macaroni salad is delicious," Amy said.
"I didn't make it, Helen did," Grace said.
"I hope you wouldn't mind sharing your recipe," Amy said.
"I love sharing recipes," Helen declared.
"I wrote it down," Grace said. "I'll e-mail it to you."
"Grace, when you said I'd meet a lot of family and friends I had no idea how many," Helen said.
"And everyone made us feel welcome," Jack added.
"We have even more for our Thanksgiving gathering," Rita said. "You should come and join us."
"Come and get away from the Ohio cold weather," Lois added.
"Jack and I are now thinking about moving here," Helen said. "Most of his family lives in Florida and mine is here."
"You need to talk to Mary," Rita said. "She's a real estate agent."
"I'd be happy to show you some property," Mary said after Rita invited her to come and sit with them. "Tell me what you might be looking for."
"A few acres in the country," Jack quickly said. "I think around two to five acres would be about right."
"How many bedrooms would you want?" Mary asked.
"I think three would be enough," Helen said. "Our grandkids are pretty much grown."
"Are you looking for something near Walter and Grace?" Mary asked.
"Oh, we have to move," Grace said.
"Mom, what are you talking about?" Julie asked.
"We got a letter from the highway department that they're relocating the highway with a new four-lane divided highway and they're taking our place."
"And I'd be happy helping you find a place too," Mary offered.
"Grandma, they're selling five-acre plots between here and Rock Creek," Perry said.
"Yes, we just got that listing a few days ago," Mary said.
"I never thought about building a new house," Grace said. "What do you think Walter?"
"I think you deserve a new house," Walter said. "Rita, we'd like to hire the builder you used when you added on to your house."
"Oh, he did a great job and we've been very pleased with his work," Rita said.
"We'd like to see the property too," Jack said.
"We could be neighbors like when we were kids," Helen said.
"Grandma, how much time will you have to move?" Amy asked.
"Thirty days after the closing," Grace said.
"Mom, that's not much time to get a house built," Scott said.
"Tommy Jamison has a large crew and might be able to get your house finished if you already have the foundation and maybe even the framing down," Darrell explained.
"The problem is we won't have our money until after the closing," Walter said. "Mary, how much money are we talking to buy the land?"
"It's $30,000 for the five acres," Mary said. "That's a good buy."
"I don't know that we could afford to buy the land and get a house started with what money we have on hand," Walter surmised.
"Hey, all you have to do is talk to a good banker," Paul said. "You know someone like me. With a construction loan, you could even start construction. Come by the bank and we'll talk about it."
"I'd love to be able to move into a finished house," Grace said.
"I hope we have enough money to buy the land and build," Walter said.
"You get your building materials at my cost," Darrel offered.
"Oh we can't let you do that," Grace said.
"Yes you can and you will," Darrell said as he gave Grace a hug. "I'm not out any money. And that goes for you, Jack and Helen."
"Well thank you, Darrell," Jack said. "However, we do have to sell our house first."
"You can always live with us while your house is under construction," Grace offered. "When can we see the property?"
"You can see it today if you like," Mary presented.
"We'd love to," Grace said without waiting for the others to agree. "Who wants to see it?"
Most wanted to go except Dustin, who wanted to swim. "You don't have to go," Perry said. "I've seen the property.
"I've seen the property too," Paul said. "I'll stay here and keep Perry company."
It was a caravan of vehicles going to see the property. "This is lovely," Helen said upon arrival."
"Each five-acre plot is flagged," Mary said. "Walk around and decide which ones you like."
"Is this creek part of the plot we just walked through?" Walter asked.
"It is and a couple of others," Mary said. "We were told that it never goes dry."
"I want this one," Walter said.
"Wait a minute, you didn't ask me," Grace joked.
"Jack and Helen, the creek also runs through a corner of the property next to this one," Mary said.
"Honey, let's take it," Helen said.
"It looks perfect," Jack agreed.
"Come by the office and put down some earnest money and it's yours," Mary said.
"Mom, that big oak tree would be perfect to have in your backyard," Julie said.
"Yes it would," Grace agreed. "I'm really excited now."
"We have to sell our place in Ohio before we can build," Helen said.
"I'm sure Paul would give you a construction loan too," George said.
"I'd rather we wait until our place has sold first," Jack said.
"Yeah we'll just rent while our house is being built," Helen said.
"You can put your furniture in storage and live with us while your house is being built," Grace said.
It didn't take long for Grace and Walter gets the construction of their new home underway. Grace presented Tommy with a page she had years ago torn from a magazine.
"This is the house I want," she said as unfolded the yellowed copy and handed it to Tommy when they met at the property. "The only difference I want is if it doesn't cost too much the back porch to be screened in."
"That's a low cost add-on," Tommy assured her. "By the way, Rita said you like to cook, we'll consider that in the planning."
When Grace hesitated Walter said, "Honey, you deserve it."
"You talked me into it," Grace said as she giggled like a school girl.
"I've built enough houses that I can work off of this drawing without a blueprint," Tommy said. "That would not only save time, but money."
"Darrell said you didn't have a blueprint for his house expansion," Walter said.
"In a way I did," Tommy began. "I have a computer program that works well. I'll do the same with yours."
"That sounds good to us," Grace said.
"I'll scan your magazine plan into my computer and then tweak it," Tommy said. "I'll also have a rendition of what it will look like, including your kitchen. I'll call you when it's ready."
"We have a month to move out once we close on our old place," Walter said. "How long do you think it will take to get the house ready?"
"I can't guarantee it, but I think we can have it finished in about six weeks," Tommy said. "Your timing is good since we're not busy right now. That could all change if we get a lot of weather delays. I do have a decent size travel trailer I can bring in for you to use for a week or two if needed. That would mean you'd have to store your furniture."
"Thank you," Grace said. "I know we could live with one of our kids, but I really don't want to do that."
"We need to go by the lumber company and arrange for the building material," Walter said as they drove away. "I also need to talk to Darrell about a pole barn and fencing material."
After discussing the pole barn with Darrell, Walter asked about fencing material. "I'll have it delivered this Saturday and we'll have a fence building party," Darrell said. "We can have it done in a day if we all pitch in. Walter if you'll mark where you want the fence I'll send the auger out and get the corner posts in so the concrete can dry before Saturday."
"I'll do that tomorrow," Walter said.
"Don't forget the garden fence," Grace instructed. "I do hate to move off and leave my fresh vegetables."
"The boys always grow more than we can use," Darrell said. "They'll be happy to share with you."
"We'll start a fall garden too," Walter said.
"While we have the auger out there we should go ahead and set the poles for the barn," Darrell said.
As planned the corner posts were already in as well as the barn poles when the volunteers arrived. Ray sort of took charge and assigned tasks for all. Ray had arrived earlier with his tractor and mowed the fence row. He even had a barbed wire unroller for an easy and safe way to unroll the wire using his tractor.
"Uncle Ray, why did you bring your plow?" Adam asked.
"Grace mentioned a fall garden and I thought we could also get that started for her," Ray explained. "I'll do that after I get you guys started on the fence."
By the time the ladies arrived with the food, the garden was plowed and the entire fence was close to being complete. In good nature, Adam teased Wilson about becoming a farmhand.
"Goodness, Tommy has the foundation in already," Grace remarked when she arrived. "And we have a plowed garden. Thank you, Ray."
"Tommy plans to start framing Monday," Darrell said. "Hey, Walter, I see that you won't need a livestock water tank if that creek never runs dry."
"There's a spring not far from here," Walter said, "I was told it never runs dry."
"Grandma, did you bring a chocolate cake," Dustin asked when the food was ready.
"No, Honey, I didn't; the chocolate icing doesn't do well in this heat," Rita explained. "Your Grandma Grace brought cookies and an apple pie."
"Okay," Dustin said.
"Mom brought a peach cobbler," Lana said.
This seemed to satisfy Dustin as he ate his sandwich with an eye on the desserts.
"Grace, have you heard from Helen and Jack?" Betty asked.
"Yes, they've had an offer on their house, but they turned it down because it was too low," Grace said. "They've had several people looking."
"I'm ready for pie now," Dustin said when he finished his sandwich.
"No, you have to eat your carrots first," Lacey said.
"Oh, alright," Dustin said.
"Don't get an attitude or there'll be no dessert at all," Lacey said.
"I'm sorry, Mom," Dustin said.
"There's Tommy driving up," Grace observed.
"I came to show you the house plans," Tommy explained.
"Let me fix you a plate while you show the plans to Grace and Walter," Rita offered.
"I had lunch not long ago, but I wouldn't mind some of that peach cobbler," Tommy said as he spread the plans on the table.
"I like this," Grace said.
"It looks good to me too," Walter agreed.
"Because you like to cook, I've added two feet more to this plan so you'll have room for a double wide refrigerator and a five-burner stove."
When Grace hesitated Walter said, "Honey, you deserve it."
"You talked me into it," Grace said as she again giggled like a school girl.
Fortunately for Grace and Walter, the weather was favorable for the construction. Most of the rain came at night. As a favor to Tommy, the subcontractors gave priority to him in getting the electrical, plumbing, and heat and air done.
The boys were busy with their part-time jobs as well as camping and horseback riding. They were also busy with the garden and yard work.
As soon as Tommy finished construction of their grandparents' house Perry had the boys there to mow and clean the yard. Grace and Walter were surprised at how nice it looked when they started moving in. Although the highway department paid moving expenses, the family pitched in to move them and save money.
"It feels like home," Grace reflected after the move in. "We put a lot of work into making our old house a home and I'll miss it. But, this is perfect too."
"Grandpa, how did you get your animals here?" Brody asked.
"Ray did that for us," Walter said.
As the summer was winding down Adam, Justin, and Jon were looking forward to their senior year of high school.