Engraved Invitation

    “Engraved Invitation,” Friend, Mar. 1988, 38

    Engraved Invitation

    “Why won’t Grandma come to my baptism tonight?” Mark asked for the umpteenth time.

    Mom wiped her floured hands on her apron and handed him a still-warm gingerbread man.

    “Grandma’s not a member of our Church. She wouldn’t feel comfortable.”

    “But why?” Mark persisted, plucking the raisin buttons off his cookie.

    “I already asked her to come, Mark. She said no. That’s all we can do.”

    Mark ate the raisins, then bit into his cookie.

    “Maybe if I ask her, she’ll come.”

    “Perhaps. But don’t get your hopes up.”

    Mark dashed out the door and across the yard to his father’s woodworking shop. It was his favorite thinking place. Things were always happening there. The sound that the saw made meant that a new creation was beginning to take shape. The smell of varnish meant the completion of a new table or rocking horse.

    Today the shop was empty of projects except for a small chair that his father was building for baby Emily. All that was left to do on it was to engrave her name and birthdate on the back. Mark had one just like it with his name and birthdate engraved on the back.

    “Engraved! That’s it!” he shouted. His mother was always teasing him about needing to send him an engraved invitation to get him to the dinner table on time. He would give Grandma an engraved invitation to his baptism! Mark hurriedly examined his father’s scrap pile. He pulled out a block of wood, found the tools that he would need, and set to work.

    Two hours later Mark got on his bike and raced the seven blocks to Grandma’s house. He hid his bike behind her neighbor’s tall hedge and crept around to her back door. He carefully placed the wood block on the stoop, knocked on the screen door, and darted back behind the hedge. He watched from there as Grandma opened the door and looked around the yard.

    “Hello?” she called loudly. When no one answered, she turned to go back inside. Then she noticed the block. Mark watched anxiously as she picked it up, placed her reading glasses on her nose, and read the uneven gouges: “Grandma, Please come to my baptism. Love, Mark”

    Grandma looked around the yard once more, then walked back into the house.

    Mark hurried home, his heart beating in time with his frantic pedaling. He put his bike in the garage, then ran into the house.

    “Mark, where have you been?” his mother scolded. “We have to be at the church in forty minutes.”

    Mark bathed and dressed in record time. Before going downstairs, he got down on his knees and prayed: “Please, Heavenly Father, help Grandma to come to my baptism.”

    “Time to go,” his father called.

    Mark bounded down the stairs. Mother met him at the bottom and gave him a big hug. Just then the doorbell rang. When Dad opened the door, there was Grandma, standing stiffly in the doorway.

    “I thought it would be easier if we all rode together,” she said.

    “I knew you’d come!” Mark cried, throwing his arms around her.

    “Well, I couldn’t ignore an engraved invitation,” she said with a wink.

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney