Summer brought about a busy time for the young men, each in their part-time jobs and other activities. Justin's job was especially important to him since his dad was enrolled in college courses and not employed. Grant had learned he could graduate in one semester by taking a heavy load during the summer and fall terms. Coach Sanders convinced the retiring teacher to remain one more semester so Grant could graduate and begin his teaching and coaching career in the second semester.
Adam enjoyed working with Dr. Ramsey at the vet clinic. However, he did shed a few tears when a family lost a beloved pet. Brody was torn between working with Harvey Betz learning the electrical business and summer league baseball. Harvey offered to allow Brody to work around his baseball schedule. He would be on a team with Chad and most of his high school teammates.
Jon would continue working with Ray and his brother. Wilson continued mowing for Dr. Hall and added a few customers from his neighborhood. Dr. Hall let him use his equipment for his lawn service.
Although the young men were busy with jobs they did manage to find time to go camping and horseback riding. Haden and Kyle were busy with their Ph.D. education and didn't do much horseback riding.
"Don't forget the fourth of July celebration at the swimming hole," Grace reminded all after church. "We'll probably need an extra grill or two."
"I'll bring mine," Steve offered.
"I can bring mine," Perry said.
"Perry, I'm close by so I'll bring mine," Ray offered.
"That should be plenty," Grace decided. "I'm bringing my ice cream maker and we'll have homemade ice cream."
"Grandma, that wouldn't make enough ice cream for all of us," Amy pointed out.
"Amy, you're right," Grace agreed. "Does anyone else have an ice cream maker?"
"I'll bring mine," Lois offered.
"I could bring mine, but it's one of those old hand-cranked type," Helen said.
"Helen, just look at all of these strong young men we have," Grace said. "We're going to take up a collection to buy the ground beef and hot dogs."
"I can donate the ground beef," Ray offered.
"No, Ray, you always donate," Grace protested. "We'll buy it from you if you have it."
"Alright, but it'll be at a discount," Ray agreed. "There's a 25% markup once it arrives at the grocery store. So, I'll sell it at 25% less than the store price."
"Kyle and I'll be busy with our education so we'll just bring the hotdogs and fixings," Haden offered.
"Oh, Haden, you can just come and we'll take care of everything," Grace said.
"No, that's something we can do," Kyle argued.
"Grandma, the group has grown so much that we probably need to take our folding tables and chairs," Adam pointed out.
"Good idea, Adam," Grace agreed. "Bring yours and we'll bring ours and that should be plenty."
While Grant had a very busy college schedule he did find some time to work with the pitchers on the baseball team. Coach Sanders wanted at least four pitchers at the start of high school baseball season. Grant began working with potential pitchers. The summer league team had lost most of their games the previous year. However, after losing the first two games the team began a six game win streak. By the end of the summer, they had won their league.
It was a huge group at the Fourth of July cookout. The day was hot and humid following a night of thunderstorms. Thankfully, the large oak tree and swimming hole offered some relief from the heat. There was also plenty of ice tea and lemonade to quench one's thirst.
Dustin was ready to swim upon arrival. Lacey had become a little more relaxed as Dustin proved to be a good swimmer. She did make sure his uncles would keep an eye on him.
"Grant, how does it feel to be a college student again?" Dale asked. "I saw you on campus last week, but you were apparently in a hurry to get to class."
"It seems I'm always in a hurry," Grant said. "I wasn't sure I could do it, but so far I'm managing."
"Dad, I told you that you could do it," Lacey said. "Dustin you get off of that swing."
"Too late," Grant said as Dustin dropped into the water from the rope swing. "But you did tell him to get off of it."
"I told him he could," Perry said as he prepared the grill.
"I guess I'm too overly protective," Lacey admitted.
"Yes, you are," Grace interjected. "Most mothers are."
"I understand you'll be joining Coach Sanders as a pitching coach," Steve said.
"I will, providing the school board approves me," Grant said.
"I think they will," Steve said with a wide grin.
"Grandma Grace, I'm hungry," a dripping wet Dustin said.
"Wanda brought a veggie tray you can snack on until the burgers are ready," Grace said.
"Oh, okay," a disappointed Dustin said as he took a few veggies from the tray as he headed back to the water. "Uncle Haden, will you get me some potato chips?"
"I thought you went to get a snack," Haden responded.
"Well, Grandma Grace told me to snack on veggies," Dustin replied.
"It won't be long until the burgers and hot dogs are ready," Haden said. "Your dad is helping cook them now."
"I guess I'll wait," Dustin said. "But I really wanted some chips."
"I don't think you have a choice," Justin teased.
"Stop teasing me," Uncle Justin.
"Or what?" Justin asked.
"I'll kick you in the balls," Dustin said as the young men in the water laughed loud enough to draw the attention of the others.
"What were you all laughing about?" Rita asked when the food was being served.
"Don't tell," Dustin pleaded.
"What did he say?" Lacey asked.
"Nothing really," Justin said. "He just got even with me for teasing him."
"I think there's more than you're telling me," Lacey said with suspicion.
Dustin quickly took his plate and went to the 'big boys' table. "Will someone get me some lemonade?"
"Why can't you get it yourself?" Adam asked.
"Because Mom will ask me again what I said," Dustin confessed.
"I'll get it for you," Brody offered.
"Thank you Uncle Brody," Dustin said.
"Haden, when will you and Kyle finish your Ph.D.?" Paul asked.
"We were told it could take up to eight years, but it won't take us that long," Haden said.
"It didn't take Amy nearly that long," Debbie said.
"Oh, we won't take that long either since we already have a Masters," Kyle said. "So it should be three to four years."
"We've already started working our dissertations," Haden said. "Our faculty advisor gave us permission to expand on our Master's theses and that'll save a lot of time."
"Oh, I recall the headache of my Master's theses," Rita said. "It was the statistics I hated most."
"We're hiring a statistician," Haden explained.
"That's smart," Rita said.
"Rita, I wasn't aware you have a Master's degree," Mary said.
"Yeah, it's required in my position in social work," Rita explained.
After eating, most entered the water to cool off. Most of the others sat with their feet in the water. "Grandma, you should have brought a swimsuit," Adam called out from the water.
"Now that would have been a sight," Grace laughed.
"Oh, Grandma, you're beautiful," Adam said.
"Thank you Adam, but I know better," Grace said.
"But, Grandma, you really are," Dustin agreed.
"Thank you, Honey," Grace said.
"And you're a good cook too," Dustin added.
"Thank you again, Honey," Grace said as Dustin came close enough for her to give him a hug.
"Now you're all wet," Dustin observed.
"That's okay, I'll dry out," Grace said.
"Grandpa, why don't you swim with us," Wade asked.
"I didn't bring a swimsuit either," Walter said.
"You can wear one of mine," Brody offered.
"Oh no, I see what you young people wear," Walter said with a laugh.
"I have an extra old man swimsuit," Darrell offered. "I'll go get it."
"Dad, I'll go," Brody offered. "Where is it?"
"Bottom drawer of my chest-of-drawers," Darrell said.
"I kind of wish I had brought one," Grace said.
"I have an extra one," Rita quickly offered.
"Okay, I'd may as well," Grace said.
Soon the swimming hole was filled to capacity. The youngsters still managed to find room to swim. "Grandpa, you and Grandma are good swimmers," Ethan observed.
"Well, we used to swim when we were younger," Walter said. "In fact, we went skinny dipping in this same creek."
"Dad!" Julie admonished.
"Well we did," Grace said.
"What's skinny dipping?" Dustin asked.
"You don't need to know," Lacey said.
"You never tell me anything," Dustin said.
"I'll tell you later," Justin promised.
"Don't you dare," Lacey said.
"We should have brought swimwear," Richard said.
"I remembered them," Ann said.
"Uncle Richard, do you know how to swim?" Dustin asked
"Not as well as you," Richard said.
"We used to swim right here when we were kids," Dale said.
"That was a long time ago, huh?" Dustin said.
"Yeah, I guess it was," Dale admitted with a laugh.
"Uncle Richard, you do know how to swim," Adam said after Richard dove into the water.
"We spend a lot of hot summer days in this swimming hole," Richard said. "It's much better now after the church camp put in the dam."
"Wilson, will you lift me up to the swing again," Dustin asked.
"Is it okay?" Wilson asked Perry. "I don't want to get us in trouble with Lacey again."
"Sure, it's okay," Perry said. "So you're the one who put him up there."
"Yeah, he said he asked me because I'm tall," Wilson said.
After dropping from the swing into the water Dustin swam over to Justin and said, "Uncle Justin you said you'd tell me what skinny dipping was."
"Lacey told me not to tell you," Justin said.
"I think I know what it is anyway," Dustin countered.
"And what's that?" Justin asked.
"I don't think they had anything on when they were swimming," Dustin said.
"Well, I guess you do know," Justin said.
"There he goes again and Perry probably let him," Lacey said as Dustin swung over the water and dropped.
"Lacey, he swims like a fish," Betty said.
"I know, but I can't help it," Lacey confessed.
"Okay, Justin, what did Dustin say to you that cracked everyone up?" Perry asked.
"Promise you won't say anything to him or tell my sister?" Justin asked.
"I won't, I know that he's all boy," Perry said.
"I was teasing him and he told me to stop or he would kick me in the balls," Justin said as Perry and those within hearing distance laughed.
"Uncle Darrell, when do we light fireworks?" Wade asked.
"We don't," Darrell said while suppressing a smile.
"For real?" Dustin and Wade both asked.
"No, we're all going to the fairgrounds for a much larger one," Darrell said.
"Oh, okay," Wade said.
After many oohs and awes the fireworks show ended with many happy children and adults alike.
Jobs, sports, and volunteer work kept the young men busy during the summer. Additionally, Grant, Kyle, and Haden were busy with their college work. This left extra work for the others. With others helping it was manageable. Justin needed the most extra help so his friends helped with the garden and lawn work. Adam and Brody assumed the duties of taking care of Haden and Kyle's lawn.
"Finally, a morning with nothing to do," Brody said as he and Adam had their breakfast.
"Wrong," Adam said.
"What do you mean wrong?"
"We really should go mow the Miller Cemetery."
"And I was looking forward to having a free morning."
"If we don't mow it Grandpa will be there mowing it."
"I know we should get at it. Wait, how will we get the mower there?"
"Dad took my car and left his here."
"How did he know?"
"I asked him last night. I also asked Jon and Wilson to help so it shouldn't take long."
"It looks like Ray is already here," Brody said.
"Hi guys," Jon said as he stepped out of the truck. "Dad's busy but he let me bring our mower. Alan's going to help too. Hey, there's Wilson now."
"Yeah, it shouldn't take long, Brody has practice this afternoon," Adam said.
"I saw you guys drive by with the mower and Chad and I came to help," George said as he pulled up.
In a very short time, the cemetery was mowed and looking nice. "Mary said for you to come by the Reed Center for lunch," George said. "She's helping out there today."
"I'd better call Mom since she's expecting Alan and me," Jon said.
"I'll call," Alan offered.
"Hey look, Grandpa has his mower," Brody remarked as they pulled into the parking at the Reed Center.
"I bet he planned to go by the cemetery and mow when they finished here," Adam said.
"Mary told me what you guys were up to," Grace said when the group was being served their food. "Thank you for doing that."
"We didn't want Grandpa out there doing it by himself," Adam said.
"Are you saying I'm too old?" Walter asked with a smile.
"Well, that and we're a lot younger," Adam said.
The day's menu pleased the gang since it was turkey and Grace's dressing.
"I wish you guys would take some money," Helen offered. "The cemetery always looks so nice now.
"No, we don't mind doing it," Jon said.
"Why don't you open a bank account for the time when we're unable to upkeep the cemetery?" Adam suggested.
"To do that, you would need a tax ID number," Ray pointed out. "You should also have a Board. I could help with that since we did that with the Reed Center."
"I nominate Grandpa for the Board," Brody quickly said.
"And Helen should be treasurer," Adam added.
"To get the account started, I'll donate $1000 to the fund," Helen said.
"Walter and I'll do the same," Grace said.
"I'll donate $1000," George offered.
"George, you don't have family buried there," Walter pointed out.
"It's a worthy cause and part of the community which I live," George argued.
"Then we'll take your money," Walter said with a laugh.
"I'll also hire Steve to draw up bylaws," George offered.
"Uncle George, there're plenty of sample ones online," Adam said.
"Adam, I'm aware of that, but I think it's still a good idea to have Steve draw up the bylaws."
"George, maybe you should be on the Board," Helen suggested.
"No, it should be someone who has a family member buried there," George said. "I'll be happy to help out where I can."
"Lois has family buried there," Ray said. "I'm sure she would be willing to be the third Board Member. That should be enough for something this small. We'll also donate $1000. But I think as long as these young men can keep it mowed we should save the money for a time when we have to hire someone to mow."
"Adam, will you or Brody be going to the food pantry anytime soon?" Grace asked.
"Not, until next week," Adam answered. "Why do you ask?"
"I have some extra vegetables from our garden for the pantry," Grace said.
"I'm volunteering tomorrow," Chad said. "I can take them."
"Couldn't you drop them off on your way to baseball practice?" Mary asked.
"Yeah, I didn't think of that," Chad admitted.
"Oh, good," Grace said. "They're in the back of Walter's truck."
"Okay, I'll get them now so I don't forget them," Chad said.
"I'll help," Alan offered.
"I have lots of extra vegetables from my garden I could donate," Thelma Newton who overheard the conversation added.
"Just bring them by the house and Chad can take them," George said.
"Uncle George, someone is breaking into your house," an excited Alan ran in to say. "Chad ran over to stop them."
"He could get killed," George said as he headed out the door followed by several others.
George and the entourage arrived as Chad was fighting with a man and appeared to be getting the best of the offender. A second man came out of the house with Chad's baseball bat ready to defend his partner in crime.
"Put the bat down," a deputy with his gun drawn. who had just arrived said.
The second man dropped the bat and raised his hands. Deputy Kowalski, as his name tag read, cuffed him while Deputy Cline cuffed the other man. "It looks like this young man got the better of you," he said.
"He jumped me," the man said.
"I did not, you came at me when I saw you put my laptop in your car," Chad said.
"Yeah, there's a laptop and other electronics here," Deputy Cline said.
"They kicked your door in," Deputy Kowalski said.
"That's it, we're getting an alarm system," Mary said. "I'll call the company that installed the one at the office."
"We need to get the door repaired first," George said. "I'll call Jeff and see if he can come right away."
"In my day we didn't even lock our doors," Grace said.
"That's because we never had anything worth taking," Walter laughed.
"Chad, it was foolish of you to run over here by yourself," Mary said.
"I sent Alan in to tell Dad," Chad argued.
"But you could have been hurt or worse," Mary said.
"Mom, I guess it was instinct," Chad said.
"I'm just happy you weren't hurt," Mary said and gave her son a hug.
"Well he beat the crap out of that guy," Alan said.
"He sure did," George proudly said.
"I'm surprised Callie didn't try to bite them," Adam said.
"Callie isn't much of a watchdog," George said. "She likes everyone."
"Chad, I'm very proud of you, but I'm also upset that you could have been killed," Mary said. "I'm glad Hailey wasn't home."
"Where is Hailey?" Brody asked.
"She's spending the Day with Conner," Mary said. "He's going to be starting medical school in Oklahoma soon."
"So will she be joining him?" Grace asked.
"Oh yes, she's in love," Mary said. "But she's going to finish nursing school. I'll hate to see her move away, but Conner is a great guy and treats her like a princess."
"Hi Jeff, that was quick," George said. "I just called you."
"I had gone home for lunch and was on my way back to the store," Jeff said. "I'll look at your door and see what's needed and then call the store to have one of the guys bring it out."
"Let me get some pictures before you fix it," Deputy Cline said.
"I'll have to have what I need to be brought out anyway," Jeff said.
"It looks like they did a job on this," Deputy Cline stated.
"The door's okay, but the jamb has to be replaced," Jeff said. "George, we can install a kick proof jamb for a little more than the cost of a standard one."
"Do it, and while at it do the other door too," George said. "I'm surprised they broke into the house with Mary's and Chad's vehicles here."
"They likely knocked on the door several times and decided no one was home," Deputy Kowalski explained. "Well, we're finished here so we'll go lock these two up."
"I need to get a shower and get ready for baseball practice," Chad said.
"Me too," Brody said. "Adam, are you ready?"
"Why don't you get a ride with Chad and I'll help Grandma," Adam said.
"Yeah, I'll get a quick shower and then drive you home," Chad offered. "We still need to drop off the vegetables at the food pantry."
"Adam, why are you and the others playing ball with these two?" Walter asked.
"Because we've already graduated and this summer league for the high school team," Adam explained.
"Adam, I thought you were gone," Grace said when he returned to help.
"No, I'm staying to help," Adam said.
"We're almost finished," Grace said. "But you can take the trash out to the dumpster."
"Where are the other two?" Grace asked.
"They have baseball practice," Adam said.
"Why aren't you and Jon in Baseball this summer?" Grace asked.
"Because like I told Grandpa we've already graduated and this summer league is for the high school team," Adam explained.
"I'm in little league baseball and will sign up for baseball in middle school," Alan said.
"Alan, it's hard to believe you're already in middle school," Mary said.
"I know what you mean," Ray said. "Right now he's on a growth spurt."
"I'm still not as big as Jon," Alan said.
"You might be by the time you finish growing," Grace said.
"Alan, we're finished here and we still have some work to do at home," Ray said. "We don't have much to do but we won't have Jon to help."
"I can help," Jon said.
"No, remember you have a dental appointment," Ray said.
"I forgot about that," Jon admitted. "I'd better get home for a shower."
"Take your car and Alan and I'll take my truck," Ray said.
"Thanks Dad," Jon said.
"Grandma, if you don't need me I'll go now," Adam said after taking the trash out.
"No, we're finished here, but wait a minute," Grace said. "Adam, there was a man and a woman here looking for you."