Inglenook Memories | page 1 | page 2 | page 3 |

Written by Joseph III
I was about ten years old, eating cereal for breakfast in the kitchen in Inglenook. There was no one else nearby. It may have been cloudy or it may have been a bright and sunny day. It didn't matter. Every morning brought the same feeling of pending adventure.

Maybe Johnny and I would play guns in the woods, hunt for pheasants, swim at the beach, ride bikes to some unknown place, or go fishing in the duck pond. The possibilities were endless. Life was perfect and I was almost smart enough to know it.

As I was eating, my eyes wandered for something to read. That's when I noticed the small wooden sign hanging in the kitchen. It said something like "Life is short. Let me bring happiness to everyone I can, for I shall not pass this way again."

Something struck me about this sign. Maybe it was because it was a thought I'd never had before. Life certainly didn't seem short -- and I rarely ever thought of trying to make other people happy. Then I tried to think of the kind of people who would hang a sign like this. Grandma and Grandpa were old, so they might think that life was getting short. It was the part about making others happy now because you wouldn't get the chance again that made me think that maybe grandma and grandpa might be saintly people. They couldn't be ordinary people. I didn't think normal people would give so much thought to making other people happy. And here they wanted to get in as much happy-making as they could before their time ran out.

This impression of Grandma and Grandpa stayed with me and actually grew as time went on. They seemed to thrive on making people happy. The way Grandpa's eyes lit up when talking to kids as he played Santa in his store. Or the joy Grandma found in making pies or jelly from the berries we picked.

Years later I would often think of that sign and go out of my way to try and do something nice for someone, all the while thinking that my deed would make Grandpa happy.

Grandpa used to pick me up in his car to drive out to Stony Brook for weeks in the summer. Once, during the drive he reflected to me that, "someday you will be driving your grandchildren out to Stony Brook." When I looked over at him he had a pleased smile on his face but continued to look toward the road. I said nothing in return. He seemed to be lost in thought. I pictured myself grown and driving a little boy out to the country .It never occurred to me that Grandpa would not be around when it happened. I wanted him to live forever.

I only hope he and Grandma know how much I've loved them and the influence they've had on my life.

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Sign in Inglenook's kitchen
copy of sign from Inglenook's kitchen


Santa Grandpa