The old rattle-trap Ford pulled into my driveway, it’s motor wheezing and spitting and of course the pups went into a frenzy of barking, letting me know intruders were on the grounds.

I closed my eyes and gave a sigh of resignation…what now? I am, by nature, a much better hermit than socialite. I struggled out of my chair and went to the door and looked out in time to see a young man climb out of the driver’s seat, quickly followed by a mere wisp of a girl and a child that could not have been more than four or five.

Well now, this could be interesting, I mused. I had no idea who they were but they seemed harmless enough so I stepped out of the house and made my way to where they stood.

The man offered me his hand to shake and introduced himself….Brian, something-or-other and his wife Mary. I never did catch a last name, my hearing not being the best in the world, I’ve grown accustomed to that happening. Mar y gave me a tentative smile and pointed down to the young boy who stood between them: “And this is our son, Todd.”d

Neither of the “adults” looked more than sixteen. I blurted out: “You guys look like your still in High school, not married.” I laughed.

Mary reached out instinctively and too Brian’s hand. “I’m 23, sir and Brian is 25.” Her gaze was steady, waiting for me to reply. I shook my head….of course they were and they just looked so young because I was so damn old.

“Well what can I do for you folks today?” I asked them.

Brian started telling me how that they had been driving by our place for four years now and they always slowed down and watched our animals. He allowed as how they dream of owning a place like this one day and raising all sorts of animals.

So we stood and talked a bit more and I told them about Melinda and her dream of owning a place where she could raise and care for all animals and how she named it “Almosta Ranch”. I told them of her death in October and how I had been forced to find homes for the animals which is why all you see today was what was left of the dog pack.

I could see that Mary was tearing up as I told my story so I brought the topic back to the present. “So, like I said, what can I do for you today?”

“We have always loved your pond down there in the pasture and we wanted to stop by and ask if we could maybe walk down there with our son and try to catch a few perch.” Brian said.

I laughed….”Is that all? Well sure go ahead whenever you want.” I told him. “It’s important to teach a boy to fish early.”

They both thanked me and Brian pulled out two of the scraggliest looking old poles and a bucket of worms from the back of the truck.

“Is that what you got to fish with?” I asked gruffly.

“Oh as soon as we’re able we are going to buy some real rods and reels so we can fish

It was then that I knew what I needed to do. These kids didn’t just happen by, they were sent by Melinda. This had her handy work written all over it.

“You kids wait here just a minute.” I told them as I hurried back into the house. When I came back out I was carrying four state-of-the art, rod and reels and Melinda’s giant tackle box full of every imaginable lure for fish of all sizes.

“It’s gonna cost you to fish in my pond.” I told them sternly. “Only way I let you do that is if you accept this stuff as my gift to you and the boy. Now teach him how to river fish and catch the big ones.”

They were overjoyed. Mary even put her arms around my neck and gave me a kiss on the cheek.“How can we ever repay you?” She said as she stepped back.

I grinned: “I think you just did.” They both laughed. “You really want to repay me, then always fish as a family, always love each other fiercely, and teach that boy all about the outdoors. I got no use for that stuff anymore because I just can’t imagine fishing again without my sweetheart.”

I turned and walked quickly back into the house before they noticed that my dang eyes had started to leak.

That all took place about three or four weeks ago and last week that truck was in my driveway again. This time it was Brian, bringing me a Zip-Lock bag full of fresh catfish fillets!

Me and the pups ate well that night. I fried the fish and made some Hush-puppies and fries to go with them and we all split the dinner. After dinner I told the pups: “See, mama was right, she always told me that if you give kindness, then kindness will return.”

Collective tail wagging in agreement and as we all trooped to bed I whispered: “Thanks for the reminder, darling…..God I miss you.”

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