Silently, the three people passed the rows of headstones. Standing sentinel over some of the graves were trees, no doubt leftover remnants of the woods that this land once contained. It was near one of those trees that the three people came to a stop. They all stared down at the two markers sitting a few feet apart. Seeing the names of his parents engraved in the stone, Daniel began to cry. He felt the arms of Quentin and Kathleen go around him, trying to give what comfort they could.
After a minute or so, Kathleen handed Daniel the flowers. He stepped forward and laid the roses between the graves. He then sat on the ground, tears falling down his face. Kathleen knelt beside him.
"You should talk to them, sweetheart."
"But they can't hear me."
"Oh, I wouldn't be so sure of that." She paused. "Would you like us to leave you alone with them for a while?"
Daniel nodded his head after a few seconds.
"Okay. We'll be right over there." Kathleen pointed to a spot a few yards away. She got to her feet and walked off with Quentin.
Daniel sat and just stared at the headstones for quite a while. Then, in a voice that was no more than a whisper, he said, "Mom? Dad? I-it's Daniel. I miss you. I miss you so much. I wish you hadn't died. I wish we hadn't gone to set up that exhibit. Then you'd be alive. They put me in foster care, and I felt like I was all alone. I wanted to be with you back in Egypt." Daniel sniffled as the tears kept coming. "They put me in a public school, and I hated it. I didn't want to be there. But then I met a girl named Sam, and she became my best friend. She and her parents and brother are like my family. And I met Mister Greer, too. He was my teacher, but, now, he and his wife are adopting me. They're going to be my new parents. I'm living with them now. They really love me a lot, and I . . . I love them, too. But I still wish you were here."
Daniel fell silent. He stayed there for a few more minutes, then he got up and went to the Greers, who enfolded him in a warm, loving embrace.
"Oh, honey," Kat said. "It's all right. Go on and let it out."
The two adults held Daniel as he cried, murmuring soothing words. It was a while before he quieted.
"Would you like to go now?" Quentin asked. The boy answered with a tiny nod. The teacher looked at his wife. "Take him on back to the car. I, um, want to stay for a bit longer."
Understanding, Kat gave him a sad little smile and led Daniel away. Quentin turned around and stared at the graves of Daniel's parents. He then walked up to them.
"I want you both to know that Daniel will be safe in our care," he said. "My wife and I love him very much, as much as if he was our own son. He has become a wonderful blessing to us. I can no longer imagine my life without him in it, and I know that Kathleen feels the same. We will both spend the rest of our lives giving him everything we can. That I swear to you."
When Quentin returned to the car, he found Kathleen sitting in the back seat with Daniel, holding the boy close. She remained there as the teacher drove out of the cemetery and took them back to his mother's place.
Daniel's gaze remained downcast as they went into the house. When he said in a very quiet voice that he wanted to be alone, Kathleen told him that he could go to their room. He disappeared inside, quietly shutting the door.
Terribly distressed by the child's demeanor and the deep sorrow on his face, Annabelle asked how things had gone.
"It was hard on him," Quentin replied. "He loved his parents very much, and their deaths hit him really hard. You should have seen how he was when I first met him, Mom. He's come a very long way since then, but that grief is still inside him."
They talked quietly for a while. Annabelle was filled in about Nick Ballard's visit. She was appalled and outraged by the man's actions and apparent lack of loving emotions for his grandson.
"If your father was still alive, he'd give that man what for," Annabelle declared angrily.
Quentin smiled softly. Alfred Greer had been a man who always spoke his mind. "Yes, I have no doubt that he would." He glanced down the hall. "I'm going to go check on Daniel."
When a light tap on the bedroom door went unanswered, Quentin opened the door and found the boy asleep on the bed, a wet spot on the quilt beneath his head that the man knew was caused by tears. With a sad sigh, Quentin laid down on the bed beside the child and stroked Daniel's golden hair. He wished that there was a way to take his future son's pain away, to heal the hurt inside. But this would pass. Daniel would get through it and move on. Going to the cemetery had brought all the heartache back to the fore, but Quentin still believed that it did Daniel some good to go there, that it would help bring some closure.
The teacher let out another sigh and closed his eyes. He'd slept very little last night, the issue with Nick and his worry over Daniel making it hard for him to relax. He was now feeling overwhelmingly tired. It wouldn't hurt just to lie here for a bit.
Fifteen minutes later, Kat peeked inside and found not one sleeping person on the bed but two. Man and child were close together, one of Quentin's arms draped protectively over Daniel's body.
Smiling, Kathleen called softly to Annabelle. The older woman joined her.
"Oh, what a darling sight," Quentin's mother said. "How I wish I had a camera. Come. Let's let them sleep."
They went into the kitchen, where they fixed some tea.
"So, how are you, dear?" Annabelle asked as they sat drinking their tea at the table. "Getting excited about the adoption finalizing?"
"Oh, definitely, although, now that Daniel's living with us, it feels like he's already ours. This whole thing has made me realize that Quentin and I should have considered adoption a long time ago. I just," Kathleen sighed. "I just really wanted a baby of my own."
Annabelle laid her hand over her daughter-in-law's. "I know, honey, and I know that my Quentin wanted that, too. There's something I never told you or him. Before I got pregnant with him, I suffered three miscarriages."
"Every one of them devastated me, and I began to believe that I was never going to be able to have a baby. When I found out for the fourth time that I was pregnant, I was so terrified that it would happen again. I prayed every day that God would let me keep that baby." She smiled. "He answered my prayers, and I was blessed with a beautiful little boy, but I will always remember the sorrow and longing that came before."
Tears prickled Kat's eyes. She, too, had prayed for a child, more times than she could count. How could she have known that her prayers would be answered in the form of a sad little orphan boy who so desperately needed what they could give him? Though she would always wish that she could have had a baby of her own, she and Quentin had Daniel now, a child who was bringing so much joy and love into their lives.
Quentin's nap lasted an hour. He took Kat's teasing without comment and fixed himself some coffee.
"Do you have any other plans for the day?" his mother asked.
"No, not really. I don't think that Daniel will be up to doing anything anyway."
"Well, then, in that case, I am going to fix all of you a nice dinner. I'm afraid that I've slipped into the bad habit of eating those TV dinner things and hardly cook anymore. I need to go shopping to get some things."
"That's not necessary, Mom. We can just get some takeout."
"Nonsense! I'm certainly not going to have my son, daughter-in-law and future grandson come for a visit, then have them eat McDonald's hamburgers in my home. It won't take me long to get what I need, and it will be lovely to have someone to cook for."
"I'll go with you," Kat said. "I know what Daniel doesn't like."
The two women went off to the store. They'd been gone for around twenty minutes when Daniel appeared from the bedroom, his hair mussed from sleep.
"Hey there," Quentin said with a smile. "Come on over and join me."
Daniel sat on the couch beside him. "Where's Mom and Gramma?"
"They went to the store to get some things for dinner." Quentin brushed a hand through the boy's hair. "How are you feeling?"
Quentin tried to catch Daniel's eyes, but they were resolutely glued to the child's lap. "Are you? I know that, if I was you, I wouldn't be."
Daniel sighed ever so softly. "I'm . . . I'm sad."
Quentin pulled him close. "I know, Daniel. It's only natural that you would be."
"I keep thinking about if we'd never gone to the museum to do that exhibit, the accident wouldn't have happened, and they'd be alive. We'd be back in Egypt on a dig." Daniel paused for a while. "But then I would never have met Sam, or the Carters, or . . . or you."
Quentin wasn't quite sure what to say in reply. He thought about it for a moment. "A lot of things happen in a person's life, Daniel, some good and some bad. Sometimes, bad things lead to really good things. You losing your parents was a terrible thing, but there are some good things that happened because of it. You met Sam and her family, and you met us." He put his finger under Daniel's chin and lifted the boy's head so that he could look into the sad blue eyes. "You coming into our lives was a wonderful thing, Daniel. I'm not saying that I'm glad your parents died, but, if they hadn't, Kat and I would never have met you, and that thought makes me very sad. You being here with us has made our lives so much better. Having you as a friend has made Sam's life better, too, and I bet that her parents and brother feel the same way. It's okay to wish that your parents never died, Daniel. It's only right that you feel that way. But I want you to think a lot about all the good that has happened since then and all the people you now have in your life who love you."
Daniel looked away, thinking about what the man had said. He did still wish that his mom and dad were alive, but, now, he had so many other people whom he loved and who loved him. He wouldn't want to make a wish that would change things in such a way that he would never meet any of them.
He looked back up at the man who was gazing at him with love in his warm brown eyes. Daniel then wrapped his arms around the big man's waist.
"I love you, Daddy," he whispered.
A big lump forming in his throat, Quentin pulled the boy close. "I love you, too, Danny."
Dinner that night was a real family affair, including the preparations. Though Annabelle and Kat did all of the cooking, Quentin and Daniel helped by making the salad and attending to the beverages, which included grape Kool-Aid, a drink that Daniel had never tried before. Over the meal, they talked about all different things. Annabelle was delighted and fascinated by Daniel's tales of some of the digs he'd been on and the people he'd met. In listening to him talk, she could see that Quentin had not exaggerated about his intelligence. Alfred would have loved Daniel and would have already been making plans for the boy's higher education. She could almost hear his voice now.
"That boy is a marvel, Anna. Mark my words. He'll be getting a doctorate by the time he's barely into his twenties. I'd give my eyeteeth to be one of his professors."
Smiling secretly, Annabelle returned her attention to the conversation.
It being a Saturday night and a special day, Daniel was allowed to stay up late. He fell asleep on the couch shortly after ten and was placed in the spare bedroom.
"We'll move him when we go to bed," Quentin said to his mother, who'd accompanied him to the bedroom.
She moved to his side, and he put his arm around her shoulders.
"Are you happy, Son?" she asked, already knowing the answer but wanting to hear how he would reply.
"Happy? Oh, Mom. That word doesn't even come close. Ever since Kat and I began to realize that we might not ever be able to have a baby, I've felt this . . . empty place inside me. I tried to hide it from her, but . . . it hurt."
Annabelle wrapped an arm around his waist. "I know, sweetheart. I know. It hurt me, too."
"From the moment I met Daniel, I felt a connection to him. At first, it was because I saw a bit of myself in him. Because he didn't speak and was so withdrawn, everyone assumed that his intelligence was below average. You remember was it was like for me when I had the stutter, the way I was teased and called stupid."
"Because of that, I felt more protective of him and wanted to do everything in my power to help him. But, as the weeks passed, it became so much more than that. I really don't know when I came to love him, although I do know that when he got the pneumonia, he already meant way more to me than any other student ever had. The adoption may not be final yet, but that doesn't matter. He's my boy, my son, and I love him more than I could ever say."
Annabelle looked up at him. "I'm so glad, Quentin. It makes me so happy that you found him and are bringing him into our family." She smiled. "Speaking of that, is he prepared for all the family he'll be meeting on Thanksgiving?"
Quentin chuckled. "I'm afraid that he's a bit overwhelmed by the thought. Since he will have already met you, it'll be easier on him, but Kat's parents alone are going to be all over him," he grinned, "especially Wayne. He's been wanting a grandchild to spoil for a very long time now. He'll probably come with a trunk full of so-called early Christmas presents."
Annabelle laughed, certain that he was right. Kathleen's father was a warm, generous man who laughed often and would give the shirt off his back to a stranger in need, so very different from the man who was Daniel's biological grandfather.
Refusing to let thoughts of Nicholas Ballard spoil the evening, Annabelle said, "Come on. I do believe that I have a wee bit of that Christmas brandy left."
"Mmm. I won't say no to that."
Mother and son quietly left the bedroom, softly closing the door behind them.
Breakfast the next morning was a huge spread that included pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and homemade biscuits and gravy. Everyone stuffed themselves silly. Afterwards, Quentin complained that he was too full to even move, let alone drive the long way back to Rome.
"Well, then I suppose you will just have to wait until all that food is digested," Annabelle responded with a little twinkle in her eyes.
Quentin stared at her. "Ah hah! So, you planned this, didn't you. I should have known." He turned to the boy sitting beside him. "Don't be fooled by that sweet, innocent face of hers, Daniel. Your grandmother can scheme and connive with the best of them."
"I don't know what you mean, dear," the elderly woman claimed innocently.
"Sure you don't."
Daniel grinned. He really liked his new grandmother a whole lot. She was exactly like he'd always dreamed a grandmother would be. He hoped that he would like his other new grandparents just as much.
As the others went into the living room, Annabelle fetched the family albums, and they spent the next two hours going through the photos, telling Daniel who all the people were and a bit about them. Daniel was fascinated by Annabelle's recounting of the stories her father told her of his time as a pilot in World War I.
"Jack's a pilot," he said.
"Jack?" Annabelle questioned. "Oh, you mean Kathleen's cousin."
Daniel nodded. "He's coming for Thanksgiving again. I can't wait to see him."
Annabelle smiled. "Ah, so you and he hit it off, did you? Well, that's no surprise. He is quite the young man."
It was around half an hour later that Quentin said they had to get going. As they gathered their things and put all of it in the car, Annabelle made sandwiches for them to eat on the road. She gave everyone a big hug and placed a loving kiss on Daniel's cheek.
"I can't wait to see you again at Thanksgiving," she said to the boy.
"I can't wait to see you again, too, Gramma."
She brushed her fingers over his cheek, gave him another hug, then wished them all a safe journey. After they were gone, she went to the mantle and pulled down a photo.
"Oh, Alfred. How I wish you were here. You would love that boy so much. I can see you sitting with him on that ratty old chair you adored, filling his head full of knowledge, just as you did with Quentin."
She took the photo to a chair and sat down. Her eyes looked about the house that had been her home for over forty years. It was filled with so many memories. For years now, Quentin had been trying to get her to move to Rome so that she could be close to them, but she hadn't wanted to leave this place because of the memories. But she had a grandchild now, and she wanted to be a regular part of his life, not just someone he visited every few months.
"What do you think, Alfred?" she asked the photo. "You know how I love this house and all the memories you and I made here together, but I'm getting along in years, and it can be so very lonely sometimes. Daniel is such a sweet boy, and I already love him dearly. It would be wonderful to have him come visit me every week. Of course, I'd probably give him cavities with all the cookies I'd bake for him."
Annabelle let out a sigh, her gaze returning to the structure that surrounded her. Perhaps it was finally time to pack up all her memories and take them with her to someplace new, someplace where more happy memories could be made.
During Monday's lunch break, Daniel told Sam about the weekend. He mostly talked about the visit with his grandmother, saying very little about what happened at the cemetery because he didn't want to get upset.
"Is your dad still coming home today?" he asked.
Sam smiled brightly. "Yeah. I can't wait. It's only been two weeks, but it feels like forever."
To Sam, it felt like the bus home that afternoon took twice as long as it usually did to reach the base. Even though she knew that her dad wouldn't be there yet, she ran all the way to the house. Bursting into the living room, she came to a sudden stop upon seeing her mother on the couch, looking pale and shaken.
"Mom, what's wrong?" Sam asked, getting scared.
"Oh, honey. Come sit down."
Sam took a seat. "What is it? What's happened?"
"Now, before I go on, I want you to know that your father is all right, just a little banged up. The military flight he was on had mechanical trouble and had to come in for a forced landing."
"I-i-it crashed?" Sam whispered.
"Yes, but it wasn't really bad. There were no serious injuries. Your father had to have a few stitches, and he's got some bruises, but he's just fine. He's just fine, baby."
Sam threw herself into her mother's arms, thinking about how close she came to losing her father today.
"Is he still going to be coming home today?" she asked.
"Yes, but it will be a bit later, not until tonight."
When Mark got home and was told the news, Sam could see that he was as deeply shaken as she had been.
Dinner that evening was very quiet, Sam repeatedly looking at the clock and listening for the sound of a car in the driveway. The sound came just before 7:30. Sam didn't wait for her father to get inside. Instead, she was out the door and flinging herself into his arms as he got out of the car.
"Hey, hey, hey," Jacob said as he held her. "It's all right, Sammie. I'm here. I'm right here."
"You could have died," she mumbled into his coat.
"I know, but I didn't. I'm a bit worse for wear, but everything will heal. Come on. Let's get you inside. It's too cold out here for you without a coat."
Grabbing his duffle bag off the back seat and wishing the sergeant who'd driven him a good night, he went with Sam inside. Laura was immediately in his arms, holding him tight. He looked over toward the dining room and saw Mark standing a few feet away, looking like he didn't know what to do.
Jacob held his hand out to the boy. "Come on, then."
That's all the encouragement Mark needed. He closed the distance between them and joined the hug.
For a couple of minutes, they remained like that, then they sat down.
"What happened, Daddy?" Sam asked, looking at the bruise on his cheek and the small cut over his right eye.
"We'd stopped to pick up some cargo. On the takeoff, we hit a flock of birds and lost both engines. We had no choice but to immediately set back down. Unfortunately, we ran out of runway. Thanks to the pilot and a whole lot of luck, we all walked away with no injury more serious than a broken arm. The plane, I'm afraid, is a bit worse off . . . and so is some of the cargo." Jacob smiled slightly. "I should imagine that General Mitchum wasn't happy to learn that his case of imported scotch didn't survive."
"We are just all so very happy that you survived, Jacob." Laura responded in a heartfelt tone.
Jacob gave her a gentle smile and cupped her cheek. She grasped his hand and pressed her lips to it.
Because of the circumstances, Jacob and Laura let both kids stay up past their bedtime. When they finally told Sam it was time for her to go to bed, she resisted for a while, but then went off to get dressed. She was crawling into bed when there was a knock on her door. It opened to reveal her father. He smiled and came in to sit on the edge of the bed.
"Do you think you'll be all right tonight? If you have any bad dreams about what happened, it'll be okay for you to come in to check on me."
"Sure, I won't mind." He grinned. "Try not to wake me, though. I'm beat. And talk about sore! I'm sure glad that I've been give a day of medical leave. I bet I'll be really stiff in the morning."
"Can I stay home with you? Please, Daddy?"
Jacob knew that he should say no, insist that Sam go to school, but looking into her pleading eyes and knowing how much this incident had scared her made him decide that he just didn't have the heart to make her go.
"All right, sweetheart. You can stay home with me."
Sam sat up and gave him a hug, thanking him.
When Jacob went back out into the living room, he told Laura and Mark that Sam wouldn't be going to school tomorrow.
"You can stay home with us as well, if you want to, Mark."
Mark wished that he could stay home, but it wouldn't be possible, not tomorrow. "I can't. I have practice, and I can't miss it."
"Ah. No, you wouldn't want to miss that. Hey, when is that big game you've been going on about?"
"Great. I'm really looking forward to it. I know you team's gonna win."
Mark beamed, thrilled by his dad's words.
After the boy had gone off to bed, husband and wife retired to their bedroom. When Jacob took off his shirt and Laura saw the cuts and bruises adoring his body, her breath caught in her throat. Hearing the tiny sob, Jacob turned to her. Upon seeing the look on her face he instantly crossed the room and pulled her into his arms.
"When they called and told me that your plane had crashed, I felt like I was dying, Jacob. I felt like I was dying," Laura whispered, starting to cry. "I almost didn't hear the lieutenant tell me that you were all right."
Jacob cursed silently. "I knew I should have told them that I'd call you myself. I'm so sorry they scared you, Laura."
His wife grasped his face between her hands and pressed a hard kiss to his mouth, the taste of tears on her lips. She then gazed intently into his eyes.
"I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost you, Jacob."
"Hey. Don't think about that. Come on. Let get into the bed."
They finished changing, then crawled under the covers. Laura immediately went into Jacob's arms, wanting to be close to him tonight.
"So, what with the excitement and all, I didn't get the chance to ask if anything interesting happened since our last phone conversation," her husband said.
"Not here, but you should know that Daniel's grandfather showed up."
Jacob stiffened and looked at her. "He did?"
"Yes, Friday afternoon. I guess Quentin wrote a letter to him about the adoption, and he came to see what kind of people were planning to adopt Daniel."
Jacob frowned severely. "That man had better not cause any trouble. Is he still here?"
"No, he left on Saturday. There's something else as well."
Laura told him about the trip to New York to visit the graves of Daniel's parents. "I don't know how it went. Sam said that Daniel didn't want to talk about it."
"I can only imagine how rough it must have been on him. I'll have to call Quentin tomorrow, find out about it and more about Ballard's visit." He was silent for a moment. "I have to say that I'm disappointed."
Laura looked up at him. "About what?"
"About missing my opportunity to knock a few of that man's teeth loose."
A little laugh escaped Laura's lips. "Well, perhaps it was a good thing he came when he did, then. We couldn't have afforded to bail you out of jail."
"True. Even so, it would really have felt good."
It was almost time for Quentin and Daniel to leave for the school when the phone rang.
"Good morning, Quentin," Jacob greeted when the teacher answered the call. "Sorry to call so early, but I wanted to catch you before you left."
"No problem, Jacob. So, I see you got back okay."
"Um . . . not exactly."
"What do you mean?"
"I won't go into details now. I'll just say that the plane I was on had a bit of a hard landing. I got a little banged up."
"My God. What happened?"
"An altercation with some birds. As I said, I'll explain it all later. The reason why I'm calling is that I've got the day off due to my injuries, and Sam's staying home from school to be with me. This thing really shook her up. I knew that Daniel would worry about her when she didn't show up at school, so I wanted him to know that she's fine. She'll be spending the day with her old man. Laura has a couple of appointments and some shopping to do, so it'll be just me and Sam for the morning and part of the afternoon."
"Okay, I'll tell him. I'm really glad it wasn't worse, Jacob. Do you think you'd be up for a visit this evening? I know that as soon as Daniel finds out about the accident, he's going to want to see you. We've . . . also got some things to talk about."
"Yes, Laura told me about Daniel's grandfather and your trip to New York."
Jacob heard a note in the teacher's voice. "Got some things to get off your chest?"
"I understand. Sure, come on over tonight. Say six o'clock? We can have dinner, then talk a while."
"That'll be good. We'll see you then."
Jacob hung up the phone and went into the kitchen, where Sam was finishing her breakfast. Mark was already gone, having had a school bus to catch.
"Daniel's being told that you won't be in school today, Sam, so he won't worry about you." It had been at her insistence that he called the Greers. He looked at his wife. "Quentin asked if they could come over tonight, and I said that was fine. I hope that's okay. They'll be here for dinner."
"That's fine. It's a good thing I'm going shopping. I was going to fix roast, but the one I have won't be big enough for all of us." She looked at her watch. "I need to get going. I assume that you will both be able to survive without me this morning."
"Oh, I think we'll be able to muddle through." Jacob gave her a kiss goodbye. She grabbed her purse and headed out the door.
The captain turned to the remaining female in the house. "So, what are the plans for today? I'm moving at half-speed, so no wrestling or other such things."
"We could play chess. You always said you were going to teach me."
"That sounds like an excellent idea."
After clearing away the breakfast dishes, Jacob got the chessboard and set it up on the dining room table. He then patiently began Sam's first lesson in the game. She took it all in, asking lots of questions and challenging things that made no sense to her. It wasn't at all like checkers, which had very simple and straightforward rules.
Once Jacob was sure she had the fundamentals down, they played a game. He guided her throughout it, making suggestions on her moves and explaining why his suggestions would be better than other moves. He, of course, won the game, but he could tell that Sam might one day be a pretty good player.
"This reminds me that I have yet to play Daniel a game," he said.
"He told me that he's been playing with Mister Greer. He said that Mister Greer is really good, but he actually beat him once."
"Hmm. Definitely sounds like I may be out of his league, then." He smiled at his daughter. "So, another game?"
They played one more chess game, then switched to checkers, in which Jacob was beaten soundly. After lunch, father and daughter went for a walk, the captain wanting to exercise his stiff, sore muscles.
"So, are you looking forward to the visit with Uncle Irving?" Jacob asked.
"Yeah. We haven't seen him in forever."
"Yes, it has been a long time." Jacob smiled. Laura's eldest brother was quite something else. A bit of a buffoon and a jokester, his main goal in life seemed to be making people laugh. The kids loved him dearly, especially Sam, whom Irving had called his Pumpkin Pie ever since she was two years old and got hold of the Thanksgiving dessert, most of which ended up on her clothing and face rather than in her mouth.
"I wish Daniel was coming with us," Sam said. "He'd really like Uncle Irving."
Jacob chuckled, imagining the boy's reaction to the man. There was no doubt that the moment Laura's brother learned Daniel's history, he would pull out all the stops to make the child laugh as hard and as often as humanly possible.
"Well, perhaps one of these days, we can get Irving to come here. Then you can introduce the two of them."
They walked in silence for a while.
"Daddy? Have you ever wanted to visit your mom and dad's graves?"
Taken aback by the question, Jacob came to a halt. He stared at Sam. "Is this because Daniel went to see his parents' graves?"
Jacob resumed walking. "I did visit my mother's grave a few times when I was younger."
"But you haven't gone there since the funeral for Grandpa Tom." Sam knew that her grandfather had been buried beside his wife.
"No. It's just too far away. But I have thought about it a couple of times. The situation with Daniel is different, Sam. There is still a lot of grief and feelings of loss. Though I miss my father very much, I have many years of memories to help me cope, and I know that he had a good long life. As for my mom, I didn't have nearly as much time with her, but a lot of years have passed since she died, so it doesn't really hurt anymore."
Sam didn't speak for quite a while. "What about Aunt Ellen?" she finally asked.
A sharp stab of pain lanced through Jacob. He sighed sadly. "Yes, I'd like to visit her grave someday."
Hearing the sorrow in his voice, Sam slipped her hand into her father's.
Wanting to get the conversation off sad things, Jacob asked Sam if she thought she was going to have enough money saved up to buy all the Christmas presents she wanted to.
"I don't know. I really hope so. I want to get Daniel a better present this year than a poster."
"Well, I'm sure that he'd love whatever you got him."
The two of them finished their walk. As they came within sight of the house, they saw that Laura was home.
"Ah. Looks like our time alone is at an end," Jacob said, kind of wishing that it could have gone on a bit longer.
Sam wrapped her arms around her dad's waist. "I'm glad it was just you and me for all those hours."
Jacob smiled down at her. "Me, too, Sammie. Me, too."