Daniel didn't waste any time writing Kenny a letter. Back when he was told by the Greers that they wanted to adopt him, he'd passed on the news to his friend, and Kenny had sent a happy reply, delighted that Daniel was going to be adopted. Now, he had even more good news for Kenny.
Dinner that evening was enjoyed by all. After the meal, as the kids played, the adults gathered in the living room with wine and beer. Jacob looked over at the child who'd come into their lives as a silent, devastated little boy and who was now a happy, lively kid beginning his life with new, loving parents. The captain was happy and proud of the big part that he and his family had played in that transformation.
The Underwoods left at eight o'clock so that they could get their kids to bed. A short while later, Quentin wandered out onto the front porch. Jacob joined him a couple of minutes later.
"For so long, Kathleen and I prayed for a miracle," the teacher said in a quiet voice, "that a day would come when we'd find out that we were going to have a baby. Each year, it got harder to hold onto that hope. If we had only known that the miracle that would come into our lives wasn't going to be a baby, but an eight-year-old little boy who needed us as much as we needed him. I know that there will be bumps in the road, just like there is with all families, but, no matter how long I live, I will never be able to express my gratitude for being given the privilege and joy of becoming Daniel's father."
Jacob rested a hand on Quentin's shoulder. "I understand how you feel, Quentin. Out of all the things I'm grateful for, Laura and my kids are at the top of the list. I think about how many ways there are that this could have turned out differently. If Daniel had been sent to a different city, if I had been transferred to a different post, if Sam hadn't befriended him, if he had been put in the other second grade class. If any of those things had happened, it could have resulted in everything not turning out so well. But then, I guess that's the way most things in life are." He patted the shoulder beneath his hand. "But this really isn't the time for thinking about what-ifs, especially not sad ones. Come on. Let's go back inside. It's cold out here."
The Carters left an hour later, though Sam complained loudly about it. Quentin and Kathleen cheered her up by promising that, soon, she could come spend a weekend there.
Just as Quentin predicted, Daniel resisted going to bed, claiming that he was too excited to sleep. The couple let him stay up an hour past his usual bedtime, figuring that the excitement of the day would catch up to him soon.
They were all sitting on the couch, watching TV, when Daniel said, "Mister and Mrs. Greer?"
Quentin looked down at him. Seeing the boy's body language, which was telling the teacher that this was a serious matter, he motioned to Kathleen to turn off the TV.
"Yes, Daniel?" Quentin said as his wife got up and turned the television off. She settled right back down on the sofa and waited with him for the child to speak.
"You haven't really adopted me, yet, right?"
"Yes, that's right. We've just been given the approval to adopt you. When the time comes that the process is all done, we'll all go before a judge, and it will be made final, and you will legally be our son."
"How long will that be?"
"Just a few more months, not long at all."
Daniel's gaze lifted to his. "Would it be okay if I went ahead and called you Mom and Dad now?"
Lumps forming in the throats of the two adults, they wrapped their arms around him.
"Yes, Danny," Quentin replied in a voice rough with emotion. "Yes, you can go ahead and call us Mom and Dad now. That would make us very happy."
A short while later, Daniel was in bed, fast asleep, Quentin gazing in on him. In a low voice, the teacher murmured, "Good night . . . Son," then quietly shut the door.
When Daniel awoke the next morning, a huge smile came to his face. He tossed back the covers and ran down the hall. Seeing both Quentin and Kathleen in the kitchen, he made a beeline for them. Quentin pulled him into a big hug.
"Mmmm. Good morning!" the teacher said, sporting a huge grin of his own. The boy got a second hug and a kiss on the cheek from Kathleen.
Quentin asked if Daniel wanted to help with breakfast, to which the boy said yes. He helped by setting the table and toasting the bread. Over the meal, the three of them talked about the fast-approaching Halloween.
"Are we going to get costumes at the costume place again?" Daniel asked.
"Not this year," Quentin replied. "It's a bit too far to go for just one costume."
"Aren't you dressing up?"
"No, I'll be going as myself, Daniel. Adults usually don't dress in costumes when they take their kids out trick-or-treating."
Daniel gazed at him. "You're going to take me?"
"Of course I am. That's what dads do."
A luminous smile lit Daniel's face. But then he thought of something. "I was going to go with Sam and Captain Carter."
"Well, then how about if all four of us go?"
The smile returned. "Okay. What am I going to wear for a costume? Sam's going as an astronaut."
"Kathleen and I have been putting some thought into that. I think it's going to be too cold for you to wear a pharaoh costume, not to mention the fact that that's how you dressed last year, so how about something else that's Egyptian?"
"Sure! Like what?"
"Oh, we were thinking maybe a mummy. We've still got the wrappings that Captain Carter wore last year."
"Wow! That would be cool!"
"Great! A mummy it is, then."
Daniel resumed eating. As he took his last few bites, he appeared to be deep in thought. He put his fork down.
"Dad?" he inquired, hesitating only a little over the word.
Hearing Daniel call him that made Quentin's heart swell until it felt like it was going to burst right out of his chest.
"Yes, Son?" he responded in kind, then watched a glowing smile light up Daniel's face. The smile then faltered.
"You told me that you wanted kids, but hadn't been able to have any." He paused again. "If you had your own kids, would you still be adopting me?"
Quentin and Kathleen's eyes met for a long moment, then they turned back to the boy.
"I really don't know, Daniel," the teacher answered honestly. "If we'd had children of our own, a whole lot of things would have been different. I may not have spent as much time with you and gotten to know you as well."
"Because you'd have been doing things with your own kids."
"That's right. I can't say for sure what would have happened."
Daniel began playing with his napkin. In a much quieter voice, he asked, "If . . . Mom got pregnant, would you still finish adopting me?"
The smile that had brightened Kathleen's face upon hearing Daniel call her "Mom" instantly vanished.
"Of course we would!" she replied forcefully.
"Daniel, look at me," Quentin commanded. The boy obeyed after a couple of seconds, and the teacher looked into his eyes. "I don't ever want you to think that if we have a baby, that will make us love you less, because that is not so. We love you like you are our own child, and even if Kat had a dozen babies, that would not change. I love you, Danny, very, very much, and so does Kathleen. Nothing will ever change that, not for as long as we live." His gaze intensified. "Are we clear on that?"
Daniel smiled and nodded. He was given a quick, tight hug.
Quentin ruffled his hair playfully. "Well, now that we've got that all straightened out, it's time for you to go get dressed. So, hop to it. We're all going to be going to a matinee this afternoon."
Daniel grinned. "We are?"
"Yep. A double feature."
The boy ran off to get dressed, secure in the knowledge that his new mom and dad really did love him and would always be his family.
The day of Halloween soon arrived. Daniel had kept what he was going to wear a secret from Sam, wanting her to be surprised. The plan was to go trick-or-treating at the base housing, so Quentin and Daniel took the drive over there. When they arrived at the Carters' home and went up to the door, Daniel hid behind Quentin, the man's big frame completely hiding him from view. Laura answered the door.
"Quentin! Hello." Laura frowned. "Where's Daniel?"
"Hiding behind me. Could you get Sam? Daniel wants to surprise her."
Laura smiled and called for Sam. The girl came running up dressed in her astronaut costume, except for the helmet.
"Hi, Mister Greer. Where's Daniel?"
The boy suddenly popped out from behind the teacher. He stuck his arms out straight and moaned as he walked stiff-legged toward his friend.
Sam squealed in delight. "A mummy! You look just like Dad did last year."
"They're the same wrappings," Daniel said, his voice a little muffled.
"That's so great!"
Daniel and Quentin came inside. Jacob laughed when he saw how the boy was dressed.
"He looks even better than I did."
Quentin chuckled. "Daniel gave us an education on the proper way to wrap a mummy as we were wrapping him."
"Now, why does that not surprise me?" Jacob looked at the two kids. "So, you guys ready to go trick-or-treating?"
"Yeah!" answered two voices simultaneously.
The two kids had a ball trick-or-treating. At every door they went to Daniel did his mummy act, holding his bag in one of his outstretched hand and moaning "thank you" after the candy was deposited in it. Both he and Sam were complimented on their costumes.
Once they were back at the Carters', Daniel was extracted from his costume, underneath which he had been wearing a T-shirt and shorts. Quentin had brought along a pair of pants for him.
The kids were now checking out their haul of candy, though they had been forbidden to eat more than two pieces tonight, the adults wanting to avoid sugar highs this late in the evening.
"Can we have the haunted tomb again next year?" Daniel asked Quentin. "Trick-or-treating was fun, but I think the haunted tomb was even better."
"Well, we'll just have to see how things go," the teacher replied with a smile.
The next day, Jacob got some news that he was not looking forward to telling Laura and the kids. He would be leaving again on an assignment, only, this time, he might be gone for over two weeks. He'd get back well before Thanksgiving, but Sam and Mark were not going to be at all happy.
It was times like these when Jacob seriously thought about resigning. But then reality would set in. A captain's pay might be nothing to brag about, but it was a secure paycheck and came with free base housing, medical coverage for him and his family, plus a lot of other benefits. If he resigned, there would be no guarantee that any job he got in the private sector would pay all that much more, and they'd have to either buy a house or rent. There would be utilities to pay, plus a lot of other expenses, all of which would hinder his and Laura's ability save for Mark's and Sam's education. There was also the fact that he would be up for a promotion soon, which meant a higher pay grade.
For the sake of his family, he had to stay in the military. There really was no other option, at least not now.
When Jacob got home and gave everyone the bad news, the response from the two kids wasn't quite what he'd expected. In the past, Mark had reacted with anger and resentment. This time, though he was clearly unhappy, he was calmer, more resigned than resentful. Instead of storming off, he asked where Jacob was going and what he'd be doing. Jacob took the time to explain everything and give him as many details as he could. The captain was very pleased with Mark's more mature reaction and treated the eleven-year-old in kind, talking to him more man-to-man than father to son. He saw how the difference in his approach affected Mark, enabling the boy to accept the reasons why Jacob had to leave.
And then there was Sam. Every time in the past when he had to go out of town, the look in her eyes just about broke his heart. When she was little, she'd usually cry, which was like a knife to his chest. The tears had pretty much stopped well before she reached the age of eight, but the look she'd get in those big blue eyes of hers was almost as bad.
This time, Sam was still upset, and she still wanted to know why he had to be the one to go, but when he explained it all to her, he could tell that she was actually listening to him and taking in what he was saying.
That evening, after the kids were in bed, Jacob talked to Laura about their reactions.
Laura smiled. "Mark's grown up a lot this past year, hasn't he."
"Yes, he has. It's great to see him acting so much more responsibly and maturely. I think it has a lot to do with what's happened this year. What with everything that's gone on, he's thinking a lot more about how other people feel and are affected by things. He's also really come to understand how much worse things could be than me going off out of state every now and then."
"Because of the situation with Daniel."
Jacob nodded. "Mark was too young to understand what was going on when I was serving in Nam, so the reality that I could be killed was not something he thought a lot about, but I know he thinks about it now and realizes that, compared to the life that some kids have, he's got it pretty good."
"I guess it's the flip side of the coin. It's a little sad that he's so much more aware of the harsh realities of life, but, at the same time, it's made him more mature and able to handle disappointments better."
"Yeah. As for Sam . . . I don't think there's any mystery about why she reacted better."
"No, I don't think there is. She's not lonely anymore. I think one of the things that hurt the most with all the moves was seeing how terribly Sam was affected by them. Mark makes friends so easily, but it wasn't so easy for Sam because of her intelligence and her difficulty in connecting to children whose interests were so different from hers. Every time she'd finally start to develop friendships, we'd have to move again."
Jacob sighed. "I know."
"Daniel coming into her life has changed a lot of things for her. She has not only his friendship, but others as well. She's learned how to connect to other children, not just those who share her interests. It makes me so glad to see that."
The captain smiled. "Me too."
"So, what time will you be leaving on Monday?"
"My flight out leaves at 6:30, so I'll be gone before the kids get up. I was thinking that we could do something as a family tomorrow, maybe take the kids to the movies."
"That would be wonderful. I know the kids will love it."
Jacob pulled his wife into his arms, a little smile coming to his lips. "As for us, my dear, I'm going to be pretty lonely not having you sleeping next to me. So, how about if we make some memories to help keep me warm at night?"
Laura smiled as well. "Some memories, huh? Now, what sort of memories would those be?"
"Oh, I think you can figure that out for yourself," her husband said before pulling her lips to his.
A smile came to Quentin's face as he walked into the library Saturday afternoon and found Daniel in the spot where he'd become a regular 'tenant' since coming to live there: curled up in one of the big, cushy chairs, voraciously reading a book.
"At this rate, you're going to have every book in this library read inside two years," the teacher said with a smile. "So, which one is it this time?"
"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea."
"Ah. Jules Verne. He was quite a visionary, you know. There are many things in his books that were science fiction back then, but are reality now." Quentin's smile faded. "We need to talk to you about something, Daniel. Come into the living room."
Daniel marked his spot with his King Tut bookmarker, then set the book down and went into the living room. Quentin told him to sit between himself and Kathleen on the couch.
"There is something important that we need to discuss with you," the teacher said. "It has to do with your name."
"Yes. You see, when the adoption is finalized, your last name will be made the same as ours. I know that might be upsetting to you, and we want you to tell us if it is."
"My name won't be Daniel Jackson anymore?"
"No, it will be Daniel Greer."
"Oh." Daniel's gaze fell to his lap. Though he very much wanted the Greers to be his new mom and dad, if he wasn't a Jackson anymore, it would almost be like his first mom and dad were no longer his parents at all.
Kathleen gently brushed her hand through his hair. "Does that upset you, honey? We understand if it does. We know that you loved your mother and father very much. There is something we could do, though, that you might like."
"We were thinking that you could have your middle name changed to Jackson," Quentin explained. "Then you would be Daniel Jackson Greer, and, whenever you introduced yourself to someone, you could give that name instead of just Daniel Greer. In that way, you would have both our name and the name of your birth parents."
Daniel thought about it. Daniel Jackson Greer. He would have the name of both his birth parents and his adoptive parents. They would both be his family.
He looked up at the two people who were gazing down at him. "Daniel Jackson Greer would be okay," he said. "Then I can have your name and theirs, too."
Quentin and Kathleen smiled and pulled him into a dual hug.
"Daniel Jackson Greer it is, then," the teacher said with a smile. "I think it's a fine name." He ruffled the boy's hair. "Now that that's been decided, do you want to go dig right back into that book . . . or would you consider delaying that to dig into some chocolate ice cream?"
"Ice cream!" Daniel immediately replied.
Quentin chuckled. "I had a feeling that would be your answer."
That evening, after Daniel had gone to bed, Kathleen entered the library and walked up to her husband, who was sitting at the desk.
"I'm relieved that Daniel handled the name change well," she said. "I was terribly worried that he'd be upset. He loved his parents so much."
Quentin turned to face her. "I know. I was pretty worried, too. Changing his middle name is a good option. It will give him a sense of belonging both to us and to them." He turned back to the sheet of paper that was sitting before him, a little frown knitting his brow.
"What's wrong?" Kathleen asked.
Quentin let out a sigh. "I've been trying to write the letter to Daniel's grandfather."
Kathleen looked at what he had written: "Dear Doctor Ballard."
"Well, it looks like your off to an excellent start, dear," she said with a quirk of the lips.
"Ah, yes. Some of my best work, even if I do say so myself." He waved at the trash can. "Those are the rejects."
His wife glanced inside and saw four crumpled pieces of paper.
"I just keep sounding either too stiff and formal or too casual," Quentin explained. "I can't seem to find a happy medium. There's also the fact that I'm having a hard time putting aside that he rejected Daniel. I'm glad that he's still in Belize, because, to be perfectly honest, I'd rather not meet the man any time soon. I'd probably want to punch him in the nose. But, at the same time, I have to believe that he has at least some concern for Daniel's welfare. I just want him to know that we'll do all we can to give Daniel a good life."
"Well, then that's what you need to keep in mind while you write the letter." Kathleen kissed his cheek. "I'm sure you'll do fine."
After she was gone, Quentin returned his attention to the sheet of paper. After a few moments, he began to write.
Dear Doctor Ballard,
This letter is regarding your grandson, Daniel. I wanted you to know that my wife, Kathleen, and I are in the process of adopting him. I met Daniel over a year ago when he was put in the class I teach. In the months that followed, Kathleen and I brought him into our lives and came to care a great deal about him. He is living with us now, and we love him very much. Please rest assured that we are taking good care of him and will give him all he needs for a happy, healthy life.
We are aware of the tragedy and loss that Daniel has suffered, including the details of his parents' deaths. Daniel loved his mother and father very much, and we know that we will never take their place in his heart, nor would we want to. But he has a big heart and has made room in it for us. We know that we will make him happy, and, as an educator, I will make sure that he receives the best education possible so that his brilliant mind will reach its full potential.
I wish to ask something of you. The only thing Daniel has that belonged to his parents is an old book on ancient Egypt, and I know that it would mean a great deal to him if you could send some photographs and other personal items of theirs. If there is any way that you can do that, please mail them to the address below. If you want to call us, our phone number is there as well.
If you are ever back in the States and would like to visit Daniel, I know that he would be happy to see you.
The teacher read back over the letter. He hoped that the man cared enough to follow through on Quentin's request.
After adding the address and phone number, Quentin took it to Kathleen for her to read. She noticed one thing in particular.
"You invited him to come see Daniel."
"Yes. I decided that it was only right. We might not like what he did, but he's Daniel's grandfather. He should have at least some part in Daniel's life, even if it's just a visit every once in a while."
Kathleen nodded. "You're right." She handed the letter back to him. "It's good, Quentin. I just hope that he sends some things. It would mean so much to Daniel."
As the silly song came to an end, everyone in the car laughed. The Carters were all on their way back from Syracuse. Jacob's original plan to have a family day turned into an entire weekend, all of them packing overnight bags and piling into the car for two days of fun. It had been a long time since they'd done something like this, just the four of them, and it had been great. Sam still wished, though, that her dad wasn't going out of town. She was going to miss him a lot.
It was pretty late by the time they got home. Knowing that Jacob would be gone before they got up in the morning, the kids said goodbye to him before they went off to their bedrooms. After getting dressed for bed, Sam went and brushed her teeth. She heard music playing on the stereo in the living room and her mother laugh about something. Curious, she went to see what was going on. She smiled when she saw her mom and dad dancing, smiling at each other.
Just then, Jacob saw her.
"Hey there," he said. "What are you doing still up?"
"I was brushing my teeth."
"Ah." The captain suddenly grinned, and he turned to his wife. "Laura, would you mind if I gave a dance to this lovely young lady?"
"Hmm. Well, I suppose one dance would be okay. I'll try very hard not to get jealous."
Jacob turned back to Sam. "You heard her, Sammie. Come on and dance with your old man."
Grinning, Sam ran up to him. It had been years since she'd danced with her father. Back then, she had been little enough that he danced with her standing on his feet, but this time would be different.
As Jacob patiently guided her, Sam had her first real dance. They moved around the living room in time to the music, Jacob occasionally lifting her up and spinning her around, making her laugh. She laughed even harder when he suddenly dipped her low enough that her hair touched the floor, then pulled her back up.
Sam didn't want the dance to end, but, all too soon, it did.
"Off to bed you go now," Jacob said. "Tomorrow's a school day."
Wishing her father good night, Sam headed for the hall. She stopped partway, turned around and ran back to him, throwing her arms around him.
"I love you, Daddy."
Jacob pulled her close. "I love you, too, sweetheart."
With one last tight squeeze, father and daughter separated, and Sam went off to bed, thinking that she really did have one of the best daddies in the whole world.
"My name's going to get changed," Daniel announced to Sam the next day as they met at their lockers.
"Yeah, when I get adopted, my last name will be Greer. We're going to change my middle name, too. It'll be Jackson instead of my last name. So I'll be Daniel Jackson Greer from then on."
"I already guessed that your last name would be changed. Mark told me that's what would happen. But I didn't know that your middle name could be changed, too. Could your first name be changed?"
"I don't know. It's not gonna be."
"Good. I like Daniel. How much longer will it be before the adoption's all finished?"
"In a few months. We'll go before a judge, and he'll make it all legal. I can't wait! Mom and Dad said we're going to have a big celebration."
Sam grinned. The first time she heard Daniel call the Greers Mom and Dad, she had thought it was so great that he got to call them that. She was happy to know that, in a few months, it would all be legal, and Daniel would really be the Greers' son. He wouldn't be an orphan anymore.
The best friends headed toward class.
"Did your dad leave this morning?" Daniel asked as they walked. Sam had called him Friday night and told him the news about her father's departure.
Sam let out a sigh. "Yeah. I still hate it when he goes away. It always seems like forever before he comes back." Her smile returned. "Oh, but guess what? We went to Syracuse for the whole weekend. It was really fun!" She started talking about all the things they did and was still at it as they reached the classroom.
During lunch, the kids talked about the upcoming holidays. Daniel was disappointed to learn that he wouldn't get to spend any time with Sam and her family on Thanksgiving. The Carters were going to spend the holiday in Arizona with Laura's eldest brother, Irving, and his family.
"How about you?" she asked. "Are you going to have lots of relatives coming?"
"I don't know yet. I know that Dad's mom is coming, and Mom's parents are, too."
"So, you'll get to meet all of your new grandparents? That's neat. Are you nervous?"
Daniel nodded. "Nick's the only grandparent I remember having. It's going to be kind of weird suddenly having four of them and a bunch of other relatives, too. I hope they're all nice."
Daniel smiled brightly. "Jack's coming for Thanksgiving, too. He's really cool, and it's great that he's going to be my cousin. He promised that, someday, we're going to go fishing together."
"I've never been fishing."
"Really? Maybe we can all go together someday."
There were less than two weeks to go before Thanksgiving, and Daniel was still feeling nervous. Besides Jack and all three of his new grandparents, Quentin's uncle and aunt would also be there. It could be worse, though. There would be even more relatives coming if Quentin and Kathleen hadn't told everyone that any more would be too overwhelming for Daniel. The boy would be meeting a few more of his new family members on Christmas.
Speaking of Christmas, Daniel was busy saving every penny of his allowance so that he'd have enough money to buy gifts for all the people on his list. He didn't yet know what he was going to get for each person, but he wanted to get extra special gifts for the man and woman he now called Mom and Dad.
Thinking of them made a smile come to Daniel's face. The weeks that had passed since he came to live with them had been wonderful, some of the happiest weeks of his life since the death of his parents. Every day, they gave him hugs and told him that they loved him. They played games, and watched TV together, and, sometimes, just sat and talked about all different things.
Daniel had once believed that no one would ever love him as much as his real parents did, but he was beginning to think that he'd been wrong, because, every time he looked into the eyes of the Greers, he saw the same love for him that he'd seen in the eyes of his parents. It made him feel good inside.
Those thoughts led Daniel to others, ones that saddened him. Back in early September, he had suddenly realized that the one-year anniversary of his parents' death had come and gone without him realizing it. He didn't know the exact date they died, but he knew that it had been in the latter part of August. It upset Daniel terribly that he'd forgotten, and he spent that evening in his bedroom, not wanting anyone to know how ashamed he was for forgetting. He hadn't spoken to anyone about it.
Since that day, Daniel had been wishing that he could go to where his mom and dad were buried. He knew that people put flowers on the graves of people they loved, and he wanted to do that, too.
Daniel looked up from his homework to Quentin, who was busy working on the assignments he'd be giving to his class next week.
The teacher kept his eyes on what he was doing. "Hmm?"
"I want to go see my parents."
Quentin's head jerked up, and he stared at Daniel, who was now toying with his pencil.
"I forgot about the anniversary of when they died," the boy said in a low voice. "It was in August, but I don't know when." Daniel hung his head low, trying not to cry. "I feel bad that I forgot. I shouldn't have forgotten."
Quentin immediately went to Daniel, knelt beside the chair and pulled the child into a hug. He recalled the day of the anniversary, when he and Kathleen did everything they could to make sure that Daniel wouldn't think about what day it was. When did Daniel realize that the anniversary had come and gone without his knowledge? Maybe what they did had been a mistake. Perhaps it would have been better to let Daniel confront it and work through his grief.
"Daniel, don't feel guilty that you forgot. People don't always remember anniversaries. Lots of guys get into trouble with their wives because they forgot their wedding anniversary."
"Have you ever forgotten?"
"No, fortunately. Kat would skin me alive if I ever did." Quentin paused. "Daniel, Kat and I have an apology to make to you. We knew about the anniversary. We didn't want you to get upset, so we decided to keep you occupied with other things."
Daniel sniffled. "When was it?"
"On the day we took you and Sam to Syracuse, August 24th."
"So, if it was anyone's fault that you forgot, it was ours. I'm sorry. We should have talked to you about it instead. And if you want to go visit their graves, we can do that."
"I want to put flowers on them."
Quentin caressed his hair. "We can do that, too. How about if we go tomorrow?"
"You know what we could also do? We could drop in for a visit with your Grandma Annabelle, my mom. She's not expecting to meet you until Thanksgiving, so it would be a real surprise. How does that sound?"
Daniel nodded. "That would be okay."
"Good. That's what we'll do, then. I'll go tell Kathleen so that she can pack a change of clothes for us. Mom will insist that we spend the night at her house."
"I should pack some clothes, too."
"Yes, but you can do that this evening, after dinner. You need to get your homework finished since we might not get back until late Sunday."
Quentin left the library and found Kathleen, who was pulling clothes out of the dryer.
"We need to take a trip to New York tomorrow," he told her.
He explained to her what just happened.
Kathleen let out a sigh. "I suppose we should have known that he'd remember sooner or later. I feel so bad now."
"Yeah, me too. He wants to put flowers on their graves, and I think it's important that he does that."
"Yes, of course. Will we be going to see your mom as well?"
"I'd say that's a given. If we went to New York without seeing her and she found out, she'd be pretty unhappy with us, especially since we'll have Daniel with us. I'm not going to call her, though. We'll make it a surprise. Obviously, we'll be spending the night."
There was a knock on the door, and Quentin went to answer it. The man standing on the porch was someone the teacher didn't recognize.
"May I help you?" he asked.
"I am Nicholas Ballard, Daniel's grandfather."