The Appearance of Mary
“Joey, I need you to come live with me.” Grandma got him aside after the funeral. He wasn’t surprised that she was already planning ahead: Although Gramps’ death was unexpected and her grief was unmistakable, he knew her as a practical woman. “I’ll have to take in boarders, and I don’t want strangers in the house without a man around,” she said.
He was cautious. “I’d like to help, Grandma.” In fact, he would love to get away from home; he’d be in a dorm if he could afford it. And throughout his teens her house had been his refuge from a home full of bickering and empty of attention. His bachelor uncle seemed happier; Joe went through high school thinking he would take monastic orders. College co-eds had now belatedly aroused his interest, but he was unpracticed, awkward and timid, with no model at home to prompt confidence.
Still, leap out of that frying pan of connubial chaos to live with an old lady? He wouldn’t mind taking the garbage out. Would she want him to go grocery shopping with her? Fetch things? Maybe not. Although her face was weathered, she seemed spry. “Suppose I stop by to talk. My last class Wednesday is out at three.”