Grace Comes Home

 Joseph Anderson Donetti was quite sure he had never been happier. Wind whipped through the trees. Rain splashed down. But he and Grace sat cozily together on her new dog bed in the corner of the porch. The wind did not reach them there. Neither did the rain.

Joseph’s arm was draped over Grace, and she had her head on his lap. “I’m so glad you’re mine!” Joseph said softly. “When it stops raining, we’ll go for a long walk together, and I’ll show you all around Jacksonville. And we can play fetch on the lawn. Maybe you can learn how to catch a Frisbee. I saw a dog at the park once catching Frisbees.”

Grace picked her head up and looked at Joseph. Then she put it back down on his leg, closed her eyes, and sighed.

Joseph laughed.

Mac’s back door banged. Joseph watched Mac stuff Mabel under her jacket. She pulled up the hood, bent her head against the wind, and hurried across the grass with great, squishy steps. She clumped up the porch steps and sank down into the big white wicker chair.

Mabel squirmed unhappily, and Mac giggled as she pulled her cat out. “Mabel didn’t want to leave her favorite spot in front of the wood stove,” she explained. “But I thought she should meet her new neighbor.”

Mabel caught sight of Grace. She hissed. She tried to arch her back. She stretched out her claws.

Grace opened up her eyes and looked interested.

“Hey!” Mac said. She held Mabel firmly. “Don’t be scared! That’s Grace. She’s going to be your new best friend.”

Mabel hissed again.

“It’s OK,” Mac said, stroking her. “It’s OK. You don’t have to worry. And you’re perfectly safe here with me. I wouldn’t let any old dog hurt you.”

Joseph snuggled closer to Grace. He rested his head on her back. “I wonder if G.M. would let me sleep out here?” he wondered out loud. “Probably not. But this dog bed is pretty comfortable. And it smells good.”

“That’s because it doesn’t smell like a dog yet,” Mac said. “Just wait until Grace has slept on it for a while. Then you won’t want to sleep on it!”

“What do you mean? I don’t think Grace smells bad!” Joseph retorted.

G.M. opened the back door. “Don’t you two want to come inside?” she asked. “It’s cold out there.”

“I’m not a bit cold!” Joseph answered quickly. “Can Grace come inside too?”

G.M. looked at Grace. “No. Not yet. I’m not ready to let that big, hairy creature in the house.” She grinned. “But I’m thinking about it.”

Mac stood up. “I’ll see you later. I’m going to take Mabel home,” she said, stuffing the cat back under her jacket. “I’ll bring her over again tomorrow. Maybe she’ll be in a better mood when it’s not raining. Mabel does not like rain!”

“See you,” Joseph said. “Don’t you think Grace is the most beautiful dog you’ve ever seen?”

“You have the most beautiful dog, and I have the most beautiful cat,” Mac declared. “And I’m sure they’re going to be really good friends. Someday.” She pulled on her hood and dashed back home through the rain.

G.M. shut the door and then reappeared a minute later, buttoning her coat. She sat down in the chair Mac had left. “If you’re going to spend the rest of your life out here on the porch, I guess I’ll just have to come out and visit you now and then,” she said.

“I’m so happy!” Joseph said. He sat up straight. “Do you think I can teach Grace to catch a Frisbee?”

“Grace looks like a really smart dog,” G.M. answered. “You can probably teach her to do just about anything you want to if you are willing to take the time to work with her. We’ll call and find out about obedience classes. The classes will teach you how to teach Grace.”

“I’m so happy!” Joseph exclaimed.

“I can tell!” G.M.’s eyes twinkled. She slipped her hands into her pockets.

“I love you!” Joseph said. “Thank you for getting me a dog!”

“I love you too, and you’re welcome!” G.M. replied. She watched the trees across the street sway in the wind. “Be sure to thank the Lord too,” she added. “He is the real source of all of our blessings. And thanking Him is one of the ways we worship Him, you know.”

“I will,” Joseph assured her. “I already did, but I will again! I wish I could just hug Him and thank Him!”

“Are you ready to come inside?” G.M. asked, standing up.

“Do I have to?” Joseph asked.

“Not yet,” G.M. answered. “And no, you may not sleep out here!”

“I didn’t even ask you!” Joseph replied, startled. “How did you know I was going to?”

G.M. grinned at him. “What can I say? You have the most beautiful dog and the smartest Grandmother!”

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