This story is by Tina Smith and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Granny was always full of so much life, but losing her last sister had taken the wind out of her sail. Her house smelled of freshly cut roses and carnations from the funeral. Granny and Loretta had lived together for 15 years. Although her heart was shattered, she continued to push through each day. With a failing marriage, I decided it was time to leave my unfaithful husband and move in with Granny.
“Missy, are you sure about that? The two of you were high school sweethearts. Charles and I had our differences, but we made it work.”
“Granny, we are beyond differences. I know marriage is give and take, but I feel like I am doing all the giving and he is doing all the taking. This marriage has been over for a long time.”
Granny got up early every morning, made breakfast for the two of us, and would take her morning stroll. She was in excellent health for her age. She never let her age stop her from enjoying life.
“Good morning, Mrs. Raimey!” Every morning when she walked through her neighborhood, her neighbor, Mr. Peterson, would leave for his morning coffee at On The Bright Side Café.
“Would you like to join me for breakfast?” he always asked.
“Not today. I have already had breakfast. I am headed to the school to volunteer. But if you ask tomorrow, I may say yes.”
Mr. Peterson and Granny attended church together and had been out a few times. Poppy passed many years ago and Granny never remarried.
Everyone in our small town knew her: the people at the grocery store, the bank, the gas station, the post office, the school. But her favorite place was the church. She adored the children, and their little eyes would light up every time they saw her walk in the doors.
“Mrs. Raimey! Mrs. Raimey!” There would not be one spot available on Granny to hug when the children came running toward her. Little fingers curled around each of her fingers, tugging with excitement.
“Can Mrs. Raimey tell us a story during Children’s Church?” pleaded one child.
“I would love to. How about David and Goliath? It is one of my favorites.”
“Granny, why don’t you go with the children, and I will meet back up with you after church?” This would give me a chance to talk to Pastor Brent without Granny around.
Granny would turn 90 soon and I wanted to plan a celebration to lift her spirits.
“Pastor Brent, could you let the congregation know that I am planning a surprise party for Granny, and I may need help for an event this big?”
“Absolutely, Missy. Your Granny has been a matriarch to this church for years.”
There was only one problem. What do you get a woman who is turning 90 and is happy with everything she has? This would take some investigating. I started with the women’s group from church. Her best friend Margaret offered an idea.
“When your Granny was turning 9, she asked her dad for a pony. She knew they couldn’t afford it, so she settled for an occasional ride on the carousel at the local fairgrounds until the Great Depression hit. All unnecessary businesses were shutting down, including fairgrounds. Even though she never got her pony, those five years became an invaluable family tradition. With each year she cherished the time with her family over the thought of a pony.”
“Mrs. Margaret, that’s a beautiful story, but was there anything else? I cannot afford a pony for her either.”
“Child, are you not listening to me? All your grandmother wants is what is most important. It is why she has lived so long. She has so much love in her heart. The only person who can out love your grandmother is God. What your grandmother cherishes most is making memories with her family and friends. All kids know these days are texting, zooming, chatting, or tweeting. The best thing you could give your grandmother is community.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Margaret! It’s so easy to get caught up in the world of technology. We could all use a reminder to check our priorities.”
Mrs. Margaret’s information gave me an idea. I needed to talk with one other person to make Granny’s party a memory no one would forget.
“Mr. Sawyer, didn’t you used to run the ticket booth at the fairground?”
“Yes, I did. I also ran a few of the rides.”
“So, why did the fairgrounds close?”
“Same reason everything around here has suffered — the economy. It’s so sad that the children growing up in this neighborhood will never know how amazing that place was. When it closed 2 years ago, a part of my life died with it. It had been a part of my life since the 70s. Fairgrounds had been closed since the Great Depression and ours was one of the first to reopen in 1972.”
“So, who owns the property now?”
“No one really knows. There is a NO TRESPASSING sign on it that says FP Construction. I thought they would demolition the whole thing, but a couple of nights a week I notice the lights on around the carousel and hear the music playing. It’s the strangest thing.”
After talking with Mr. Sawyer, I decided the perfect place to have Granny’s party would be at the old fairgrounds, if I could find out who owned it.
Now I needed to go to the courthouse to talk to Mrs. Pearl.
“Mrs. Pearl, I know you have connections to all the local businesses. But no one seems to know who owns the old fairground property. The sign out front says FP Construction. I would like to talk to someone about having Granny’s party there.”
“What a delightful idea. I heard Gloria was turning 90. Let me see what I can find out.” She began typing so fast on the keyboard, it sounded like a drum roll. “The owner asked to not be disclosed, but I can give you a telephone number to speak with the secretary.”
“Thank you so much, Mrs. Pearl.”
I raced out to the car, pulled out my cellphone and called the number. After explaining my plans to the secretary, she replied in a small nasally voice, “Yes, dear! I am sure Frank wouldn’t mind. It is private property, but I have heard wonderful things about your Granny. I will get back to you soon.”
Frank? Who is this Frank? Who is FP?
The time came for Granny’s party. To say it excited her is an understatement. Everyone shared their favorite memories. Even the children from church performed a song.
Last was Mr. Peterson. After he shared his stories, he said, “I have one more thing to add. I bought this property 2 years ago. I kept it a secret until I could decide what to do with the property.” Everyone was astonished.
“I purchased it with the intentions of tearing it down and selling the property, but when I heard your grandmother’s story of her childhood, I just couldn’t do it. I have been slowly updating the carousel. A specialist came to tune the calliope to bring back that perfect pitch of the pipes.”
FP–Frank Peterson–… Mr. Peterson! Now it all makes sense!
“But why did you find Granny’s story so intriguing?”
“When I was around the age of 10, prior to the Great Depression, I met a beautiful young girl on the carousel at the local fairgrounds. I only saw her once a year. I didn’t discover until after I purchased the property it was Gloria. Then I thought, what if there are more kids like her, wanting a pony but can only afford a carousel ride? I would like to reopen the fairgrounds on Gloria’s birthday every year and allow the children to ride the carousel for free.”
Mr. Peterson had one more surprise.
“I am renaming the carousel–Gloria Raimey’s Glorious Gallopers. I will set up a fund to care for the fairgrounds long after we are both gone, so all the children and children to come can make memories that matter.”
Though Granny never got her fairy tale as a child, she received it that day and so would all the children.
Granny would always say, “Missy, age is just a number. It’s what you do with each moment that counts, not the years.” It was her view of life that inspired so many. Granny has been gone for 4 years, but her legacy lives on. Who would have thought that a pony ride would make such an impact?