The Summer of 1969: Beloved Grandpa’s Wisdom

By Richard Mabey Jr.


Our true-life story so far: On the sixteenth of July of 1969, I had attended my swimming lesson at the Paterson YMCA and hence had missed watching the launch of Apollo 11 on television. Upon arriving home, Mom and I found Aunt Helen and my sister Patti in the living room watching TV. They were both very excited about having watched the Apollo 11 send off. Mom, my sister, Aunt Helen, and I eat lunch together.  After lunch, I walk down Mabey Lane by myself, rediscovering Mr. Bligh’s old woodshed that stood in the forest path along the lower third of Mabey Lane. It is now the morning of the seventeenth of July. I walk down to Thorpe Hall at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, to continue my work on my Eagle Scout project. 


It was the seventeenth of July of 1969. It was nearly high noon. I had just finished painting the trim on the two remaining Sunday School classrooms on the first floor of Thorpe Hall at Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church. I carried up the big canvas tarp, that I had put down on the floor so as not to get any paint on the floor. I put the neatly folded canvas on a table, right next to the back door of Thorpe Hall.


Then I went back downstairs and carried up the nearly empty paint can and my two paint brushes. As I washed out my two paint brushes in the big kitchen sink, I thought to myself, “I did it. I completed my Eagle Scout project.”


I put my two paintbrushes atop the old paint can, which stood beside the neatly folded canvas. I then took pictures of the newly painted Thorpe Hall for the gentlemen of the Eagle Scout Board of Review.


After taking my pictures, I sat on the stage, at the far end of Thorpe Hall and began eating my lunch. There, across the long empty room, I saw the spectre of my grandfather, Watson Mabey. Grandpa had passed away in May of 1968. I still deeply mourned his passing.


The ghostly figure walked over to where I was sitting on the stage, eating my lunch. Not aloud, but inwardly, my grandfather assured me that all was good. That everything was going to work out. Grandpa inwardly told me that Lisa Ann was being guided by an angel, to help me earn both, my Swimming and Lifesaving Merit Badges.


As I sat there on the stage, the ghost of my grandfather standing before me, Grandpa told me not to feel too hurt about how things were going with Mary Tafano. He assured me that Mary was a kind, sweet girl, but destiny had called her to be my friend and not my beloved girlfriend. Then Grandpa assured me that a kind, smart, wonderful girl was going to come into my life. That she would be near and dear to my heart.


Grandpa told me that he loved me and that he was watching over all of us from Heaven’s Gate. Then, before I could utter a word to my grandfather, Grandpa’s ghostly figure vanished. Just as his spectre form evaporated, I shouted out, “I love your Grandpa.”


I looked down at the floor beneath my dangling feet. There was an old penny, lying on the floor, head’s up. Something drew me to that penny. I picked it up and looked at it for a moment, then put it in my right pocket. It was a sign. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was a true sign. A kind, sweet girl, named Penny, would soon come into my life.


To be continued.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.

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