Our six-year-old grandson, Dylan, occasionally calls me on his Aunt Meg’s cell phone as they are walking back to her house from his kindergarten. Those four-block walks can take up to 40 minutes, depending on how many trolls, dragons, and princesses they meet and converse with along the way. I know, because I walked with them when I was in Los Angeles, and it was magical.
During one of his calls, after describing the dragon they had just encountered, Dylan asked what I was doing. “Walking in the cemetery,” I replied. I walk almost every evening in Riverview Cemetery since it’s just a few blocks from my house and it’s such a lovely, serene place.
“Oh, take a picture of a ghost,” Dylan commanded me. So I did.
I stood in front of a tall tombstone with my back to the sun and thereby cast a spooky shadow up the side of the stone. I tried several different poses, then texted the pictures to Meg who showed them to Dylan. He was ecstatic and wanted to know the ghost’s name. “Pirate McDougal,” I said.
Dylan didn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that Iowa is somewhat landlocked and probably hasn’t had many pirates in residence. I told him Pirate McDougal was a good pirate who only stole treasures from other pirates who had stolen them from poor people and Pirate McDougal then gave the treasures back to the poor people. I know, I know, most poor people don’t have treasures in the first place, but please don’t get all technical on me. I hate it when you do that.
The next evening, I decided to take a picture of another ghost, this time the ghost of Mary Poppins. I took an umbrella with me and held it over my head as I snapped pictures of the shadow on the same cooperative tombstone. It was a bright, sunny day and the other walkers in the cemetery probably wondered why I was wandering around with an umbrella, standing in various poses in front of a tombstone.
Oh well – it probably gave them something to talk about with their families over the dinner table. “We saw this crazy lady . . .”
Dylan said the next day that he told everyone in his kindergarten class that his Nana knows Mary Poppins’ ghost. And also Pirate McDougal’s. He said they were all impressed and he’s sure they all wish their Nanas had such interesting friends.
It’s a nice feeling to be something of a celebrity to kindergartners.