Finished taping up a box, Jack looked down at his watch. Most of the morning had evaporated as he packed. Elaine and the grandkids would be there any minute. The living room looked strange and unfamiliar to him, he hadn’t seen it so empty since he and Suzy had first moved in. All the furniture Jack could move was pushed neatly by the door and Jack has spent most of the morning filling box after box with knick-knacks and memories. All of his books were packed away, and Suzy’s china was carefully wrapped up. It was odd that Suzy hadn’t gotten out of bed yet, but maybe she really needed the rest. Jack stacked the box along the wall with the rest and then pulled on a heavy sweater. He decided he would let Suzy sleep as much as possible and that he would wait for Elaine outside. The fresh air would do him some good.
He hadn’t been waiting long when a green minivan pulled into the driveway. As soon as the car was parked the sliding door raced down its track and a barefoot boy in a blue soccer uniform came sprinting across the yard kicking up amber oak leaves as he went. Kaden, Elaine’s 8-year-old son, plowed into Jack for a hug without slowing down. It hurt, but Jack wouldn’t trade Kaden’s enthusiasm for the world.
“Kaden be easy on your Grandfather!” shouted Elaine while working to unload empty boxes from the hatchback.
“Grandpa!” exclaimed Kaden, ignoring his mother. “I scored two goals today!”
“You don’t say? I think that earns you a dollar, you better take this” said Jack handing Kaden a bank-fresh dollar bill from his wallet. “Put that in your pocket before your mother sees.”
“Sweet! Thanks!” Kaden shouted, then added “Mom says that after we get you moved you will be able to come all the time.”
Jack ruffled Kaden’s hair and laughed “I wouldn’t miss them.”
Mary, Elaine’s oldest walked up giving Jack a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek before she sat down on the stoop and opened her book. Last to walk across the lawn were Matt, an athletic boy of fifteen and Elaine, both carrying awkward armloads of flattened packing boxes.
“we’re just getting the small stuff now,” Elaine explained to Matt. “Your dad is coming by later for the furniture.”
Matt threw down his stack of boxes and slid Mary over so he could have a seat, putting a dangling ear-bud back in his ear.
“Apparently you are ruining his life,” translated Mary without looking up from her book. Elaine shrugged and smiled hesitantly at Jack.
“Dad, how are you?” she asked, a note of concern in her voice.
“Oh, I’m doing alright. This chill wants to take the strength out of my old bones, but I’m as ready as anybody for some heavy lifting.”
“Well let’s get started then,” Elaine said with relief. “I’m glad you are on board with this Dad, it’s going to be so much nicer having you closer and out of this big empty house.” The four of them filed their way into the living room.
“Grandpa, come here!” Called out Mary from half way down the attic ladder. “I want to show you something.”
Carefully climbing the ladder, Jack poked his head up into the attic, and looked around, dust floated lazily through the sunbeams coming through the window. Getting his bearings Jack hefted himself up until he was sitting on the floor.
“Oh Geez, I haven’t been up here in ages,” he said taking stock of the numerous boxes he had tucked away and then forgotten about. Mary sat in one of the only spaces not occupied by junk, a couple of half packed boxes surrounding her.
“I thought we were supposed to be packing, not unpacking,” he teased as Mary pulled something out of a box. Mary laughed, exposing two slight dimples.
“Nah, this is more fun.” She raised a blocky, black and grey camera with what appeared to be folding billows to her eye. “Say cheese, Grandpa” she said, pushing the button. There was a click and then the old Polaroid began emitting a low buzzing sound.
“How did you get that old thing to work? Asked Jack. “Where did you even find it?”
“Please, you never throw anything away,” said Mary, pulling out the photo and waving it back and forth. “the instructions were in the box.” She blew on the photo and then handed the black and white portrait to him. “There! Look at that handsome devil” Jack wasn’t so sure, but he smiled anyways. Mary had already turned away. “Look, it even has a self-timer!” she balanced the camera precariously on a short stack of boxes and hitting the shutter she quick-stepped her way behind Jack and hugged him around the neck. Jack reached up and put one hand on top of hers, smiling for the picture. The camera beeped and then clicked before buzzing again.
“There are a lot of great old pictures up here,” she continued, while waiting for the new picture to develop. “I even found your wedding album.” She handed a shoebox of loose pictures to Jack who began sifting through, smiling at the memories.
“Your grandma would love this.” Said Jack letting the pictures fall back into the box one-by-one. Marry continued waving the polaroid in the air.
“Yeah I wished we could show her.” She looked down at the developing photograph, blowing on it gently.
“Well, let’s start bringing some of these boxes downstairs, and we can show her. It is well past time she got out of bed.
Mary didn’t reply.
“You were doing so good this time Grandpa.”