by Just_Fn_Crazy
    March 1996

    A gull cried overhead. He looked up into the azure sky and spotted the bird soaring in his direction, high over head. He watched it as it did its skillful maneuvers, only to land on the beach below where the whitecaps crashed in the brisk breezes coming in off the big lake. He loved to watch the waves race ashore only to retreat again, and waited filled with anticipation as the next group of waves moved inland. But he had never seen it from such heights and the red soil beyond the gray rocks was again something he was unfamiliar with, which only seemed to add to its beauty. Thus he sighed a great sigh and almost moaned with pleasure. Yes, it was well worth the traveling to get to come to Lake Superior, and well worth the cost.
    In a tree nearby a common robin protested the presence of a black bird in his territory. The familiar saga played out for the untold millionth time since the birth of these two creatures seemed interesting even if it was a little overdone. The robin flew out to head off his favorite enemy and to confuse his foe that his nest might be safe. The black bird knew what was going on and persisted in his search for a new home for quite some time before ultimately giving up and moving on, unable to tolerate the robin’s harassment another second. How wonderful it was to be out in nature, taking in the sights as for the first time, and enjoying them even more for knowing something of what was going on.
    However the sun seemed a bit too hot on his back as he made his way back to the car, parked about a half block to the west through the trees. He was glad he would not be spending too much time away from the car since he had obviously overdressed for the occasion. The car being the only one parked in the little wayside rest did not seem to suggest civilization at all, but rather safety and comfort. It was not a symbol of the modern mechanized world but merely a means of transportation, which he fully appreciated, having spent the past several hours behind the wheel with his wife.
    “You should have come along,” he said to his wife as he opened the car door upon his return.
    “You were gone so long,” she protested. “I was about to come looking for you. How would I know if you fell off the edge or not?”
    He removed his jean jacket, folded it and threw it in the back seat.
    “There was a place to eat a while back,” she said. “Would it be okay if we went back there and got a sandwich? I’m a little on the hungry side.”
    “Maybe there is another one up ahead. There are all kinds of those things along the way. It won’t be long before we see another.”
    “You don’t know that. Turn back and let’s eat something. I don’t want to wait for God knows how long.”
    He put the car in reverse, backed out and turned left back in the direction of Duluth. How he hated big cities, and Duluth was very nearly too big for his tastes. But he would oblige the love of his life with her snack on the way to his weekend on the North Shore. It was the least he could do. He knew full well she was not going to have a very good time in a tent in the woods, which was what she had said when he finally convinced her to go camping with him.
    “Slow down!” she said. “It’s not very far. Right around the next turn I think.”
    There was nothing but more trees around the next turn.
    “It was called ‘Granny’s Inn’ or something like that. I remember thinking it surely would have home cooked meals when we passed it. If you hadn’t been so fired up to take a walk in the woods we could have stopped then, but no you just had to press on. I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. All you could think about was yourself. I never entered your mind, and the fact a body gets hungry every once in a while, that never entered your head either. I swear, sometimes you can be the most thoughtless beast.”
    GRANDMA’S BREAKFAST the sign said as they rounded another curve.
    “Is that it?” he asked, amused she had misread the sign.
    “Grandma’s Breakfast!” she said, outraged by her error. “No that’s not it. Drive on.”
    “That’s it. Admit it. I’m not going to drive all the way back to Duluth just because you misread a sign along the way. And you can’t get anything to eat here. I don’t think they’re even open. There isn’t one single car in the parking lot.”
    “Pull in anyway. They might be open. Maybe they have sandwiches anyway, like McDonald’s. A sausage and egg with biscuit or something. I tell you I’m famished.”
    He smiled openly as he turned into the parking lot, made a point of parking anywhere he wanted, and putting the car in park he stared at the door. To his surprise another sign said ‘Open 24 hrs.’ which almost ruined his good mood.
    “Shall we my dear,” he said as he opened his door.
    “Go in and order me something. I don’t care what it is. Just something to tide me over until we eat supper somewhere nice.”
    He said nothing. He got out of the car, and noticing it was a bit nippy without his jacket he walked briskly to the door and swung it open.
    Inside there was a well lit dining area with many tables. He was surprised how large the place seemed, but there was no one around that he could see. So he grabbed the bells that hung on the door and gave them another jingle. There was still no one.
    “Anybody here?” he shouted half expecting an echo.
    He heard the sound made by something metal being dropped in the kitchen area and soon an elderly woman about his grandmother’s age appeared in the doorway dressed in a white uniform with a large canvass looking apron. She stopped and looked at him as he stood there wondering if this was Grandma herself.
    “Can I help you?” she asked.
    “Are you Grandma of Grandma’s Breakfast?”
    “That’s me. Rest of the help is gone. This is not exactly our busiest time.”
    “I don’t suppose.”
    She walked over to a nearby table and sat down with some effort.
    “You’ll have to pardon me. I’m not as young as I used to be. 94 next mont. Never thought I would live so long. If I had, I know I would have taken better care of myself.”
    He ignored her humor and set about attempting to solve his wife’s dilemma.
    “I wonder if you could help me out.”
    The old woman seemed more than eager.
    “My wife, she wants a sandwich or something just to tide her over until supper.”
    “Wife? You mean you are not alone? I expected you would be alone.”
    “No. My wife is out in the car. She hates to get out of it I think.”
    “Tell her to come in. I’ll fix her anything she likes. Go get her.”
    “Well, she’s kind of in the mood to eat it on the road.”
    “Nonsense. You can’t digest food properly on the road. Tell her to come in.”
    He knew he could not tell the love of his life anything and that once her mind was set on something there was very little he could say that would change it.
    “You men nowadays. You have no gumption. When my Henry was alive I obeyed him. Not just because the wedding vows said to, I obeyed him because he had gumption. I’ll go tell her if you want.”
    “Couldn’t you just give me something to take out?”
    “No. No,” she said. “You sit right down here and I’ll go have a talk with your missus. Come. Sit! It won’t take me a minute and it might just change the rest of your life.”
    ‘The rest of my life?’ he questioned in his mind as he found himself sitting and the old woman on her way out to talk with the love of his life.
    It seemed to be taking a long time so he rose and walked to the door. The car was there but where were the two women? He could plainly see they were not in the car. What was going on?
    He opened the door into the bright sun and to his surprise there was his wife and the old woman chattering along about the flowers next to the building. His wife was laughing at something the old woman had said, and the old woman was holding a bright blue bachelor button between her fingers and he thought she might pick it. But she didn’t.
    “Oh! There’s your mister,” the old woman said to his wife. “We were having such a nice chat. I guess we forgot you were waiting inside. Shall we go in?”
    She looked at his wife and then at him, only to repeat the process a second time.
    “Well’” the love of his life said at last. “I am hungry. And I sure could use a sandwich.”
    “You need much more than a sandwich, missy. You need a new life. You too, my dear man. The two of you can’t go on like this forever. It’s not natural.”
    She ushered them through the door and he could tell his wife was as puzzled by the old woman’s peculiar remarks as he was.
    “Sit down. Sit down anywhere. This is not our busiest time. There are plenty of tables.”
    The couple sat down at a table close to the kitchen.
    “It will be only a few minutes and your breakfast will be ready. Enjoy.”
    The old woman then disappeared into the kitchen.
    “Maggie!” they heard her shout. “We have customers. Two number sevens and make it snappy!”
    In a moment the old woman reappeared holding what looked like a large bottle of wine.
    “No. No thank you,” the man said. “It’s still a little early in the day for me.”
    “A little early? Why my dear Thomas, you purposely try to mislead me. You don’t drink at any time of the day. You used to, but not anymore. Not since Samantha put her foot down. You see that is the whole problem . . .”
    “What do you mean, Thomas? How do you know my name? Did you tell her my name, Dear?”
    “No. I assumed you told her mine.”
    “What is going on here? I noticed you said something queer before. But I just thought you were an old woman.”
    “I am an old woman, Tommy. You don’t mind if I call you Tommy? My eldest son, God rest his soul, was named Thomas. It makes me uncomfortable to say that name aloud. It was such a terrible thing that happened to Thomas. I hate to think of it.”
    The man sat down, surprised to find that he had risen to his feet. He didn’t think he was all that upset, just curious.
    “That’s better, Tommy. And this is not wine. It is only water. Very special water, but then again water is just water. It depends on whether you believe. Do you believe Samantha dear?”
    “Believe what, Ma’am?”
    “Why, what we are here for?”
    “What’s that, Ma’am?”
    “Love, my dear sweet woman. Love. That’s what we are all here for. Isn’t it?”
    “What kind of love?” Tommy asked.
    “There is more than one kind of love nowadays?”
    “There’s the love you have for God.”
    “Yes, there is that.”
    “There’s the kind of love you have when you’re first married?”
    “You’re right. That is love also.”
    “There’s the kind of love you have for your children.”
    “See how wise your husband is Missy? He is a very wise man!”
    “Are you making fun of me?”
    “No. By all means tell me. What other kinds of love are there?”
    “Well, there are a lot of different kinds of love. What kind are you interested in?”
    “What about the kind you have for your wife?”
    “That kind is a kind of love too.”
    “Kind of love, doesn’t cut it my boy. You have to really love her or you’re just throwing your live away.”
    “I love her!”
    “Thank you, Dear,” his wife interrupted.
    “No. You say you love her because you are afraid you don’t love her anymore. Isn’t that true?”
    “No. I love her. And who are you to say otherwise?”
    “Me? I’m nobody. Just an old woman. An old woman with a bottle of water.”
    “Settle down, Dear. I think we should listen to what the old woman has to say.”
    “Please. Just call me Grandma. Everybody calls me Grandma?”
    “Tell us, Grandma. How do we recapture the love we once had for each other?”
    The old woman sat the bottle down between them, opened it, poured some in each of their glasses and asked them to drink it. Then the man took another drink and the woman did the same. In fact they sat and drank water with the old woman and talked, talked like they had not talked in years. They cried, they laughed, they mourned and they rejoiced. And by the time they left they were two different people.
    “How did she know our names?” Samantha asked Thomas that night under the stars at the State Park over a glass of wine.
    “I don’t know. Maybe you know everybody’s name when you’re 94.”
    Samantha laughed.
    Thomas thought about it as he looked into the starry heavens out over the big lake. There were so many stars. He couldn’t ever remember there being so many. It was as if God had issued a special blessing just for him and Samantha. He was drunk with love. He had not thought it possible, but he
    could not get enough of Samantha for the first time in many years. It was a miracle he was sure. But just how did the old woman know their names.
    The next morning they still had no answers even after a good night’s sleep. It was grand, truly grand, but how had it come to pass? They had no idea, and no way to explain it.
    “Let’s go back and see her,” Samantha suggested.
    “Yeah. Let’s go back for breakfast.”
    Samantha rose to walk the short distance to the car while Thomas started to take down the tent.
    “Just leave it,” Samantha said. “We’ll get it on our way back. We have six days. We might as well camp. That is if you still want to. It is wonderful out here. Thank you, Tommy, for bringing me. I just love it!”
    It wasn’t long until they were at Grandma’s Breakfast. The parking lot was full of cars but they were undeterred. They parked along the highway. And soon they were in the crowded restaurant waiting to be seated.
    “Where’s Grandma?” Thomas asked a young woman who obviously worked there.
    “Grandma? Oh! The sign. There was an old woman who ran this place up until about four years ago. She died. We, my husband and I, took it over. The name was so popular we decided to keep it. Anyway I hope I can continue to serve her recipes until I’m 93 too.”
    “No. You don’t understand. We were here yesterday afternoon. There was an old woman here who did some amazing things for us.”
    “No. You must be mistaken. I was here all afternoon. I never made one breakfast. It was a real slow day.”
    “Maggie! Two more number sevens! Make it snappy!” someone from the kitchen yelled.
    “Sure thing,” she said. “I have to make the number sevens myself. It was the old woman’s specialty. Some say she could work a miracle, but I know the ingredients. It’s difficult but believe me it’s not quite a miracle.”
    With that she was gone. The couple stayed and had two number sevens and were more than just pleasantly surprised, but soon it was time to leave. And they still did not have the exact answer to the miracle that had restored their love, just some story about an old woman who died and left a restaurant to strangers they presumed.
    Thomas pulled back into the wayside rest he had visited yesterday. Samantha took the short walk to the ledge overlooking Lake Superior with him. And they were enjoying the scenery when the most peculiar thing happened.
    Grandma stood beside them for a time and explained that she was an angel and that they had been reunited not by her, but by God, the same God who read Thomas’ heart and knew he needed more than anything else to be loved by, and to love again, his Samantha, the love of his life. And they set out on their new life determined to make the most of every minute.