Mama felt bad after telling Tommy that this had to be the last time he could see the dog but she knew it was for the best. While she waited for him to come back home, she got out some old photo albums and started flipping through the pages, now yellowed and crumbling with age.
Page after page was filled with pictures of “grandpa,” from when he was a little boy until just before he died. He had the happiest eyes and he was always smiling. He had been a wonderful father and how she wished he had lived long enough for Tommy to have really known him. He was one of those people who leave an indelible mark on your life.
She walked down memory lane as she remembered all the corny jokes he used to tell. She smiled when she remembered how many times he would push her in the swing he had made from a tire, while telling her stories of old Blue.
She was so lost in nostalgia that when Tommy leaned over her shoulder and spoke, it startled her. She didn’t even know that he had come back home.
He pointed to a picture of old Blue and excitedly said “that’s the dog! That’s the dog who hides behind those rocks!”
All mama could get out was “what?” Tommy repeated “that’s the dog who hides behind those rocks! I think he wants to play hide and seek.”
Mama said “honey, that can’t be. That’s a picture of old Blue and old Blue died many years ago. You know that. It’s just some dog who looks like him.”
Tommy was adamant when he kept repeating the same words. Then he said “no, mama. I promise. Come with me and you’ll see for yourself.”
Mama said “Tommy, honey. I just think you want it to be him but you know it can’t be.” Her heart sank when Tommy looked at her and said “why don’t you believe me mama?”
“Okay,” she said. “Let’s go have a look.” Tommy started tugging on her hand as she reluctantly walked out of the house. When they got to the place Tommy said he saw him, they waited for a few minutes and then mama asked “where is he?” Tommy looked disappointed and said “I don’t know. He was here before.”
Mama said “well, he’s not here now and we have to get back home so I can start dinner.” Tommy said “please, please, can we wait just a few more minutes, mama? Please?”
Mama was ready to start walking back home when Tommy squealed “there he is! There he is mama! See? I told you.”
Mama looked around but she couldn’t see anything. “Where do you see him Tommy?” she asked. Tommy looked puzzled and said “he’s standing right there, mama. Don’t you see him?”
Mama smiled. She now knew that the dog was just an “imaginary friend” Tommy had conjured up. Trying to appease him, she said “yes I see him Tommy but we need to get on home now.”
Tommy started running. He said “c’mon mama. C’mon!” He wants to play hide and seek.”
Mama called for Tommy to come back but he kept running. She started walking toward him, calling his name over and over until she finally caught up with him.
Tommy said “see? These are the rocks he likes to hide behind.”
Mama froze. The “rocks” Tommy was talking about were tombstones. They were standing in the middle of The Green Terrace Cemetery.
Mama wasn’t sure that Tommy even knew a cemetery was there and he obviously didn’t know what it was, given that he thought the tombstones were just rocks.
Tommy took her hand and said “he hides behind this one.”
Mama sat down and cried. Tommy asked “what’s wrong mama?”
She said “this is where your grandpa is buried.”