Fred, at twenty, is the owner/operator of a successful lawn care service. He started this service as a means to make extra money during the summer when he turned fifteen. He would go around his neighborhood asking the people if they would like him to mow their lawns, rake their leaves or trim hedges and bushes. He soon developed a loyal following. But there was one house at the very far end of the lane that he was told to stay away from. All the neighbors claimed that a cantankerous, witch like, old lady lived there. And so, Fred avoided going over there that summer. One day, the next summer, Fred observed a woman, who looked to be only in her sixties, mowing her grass. In all good conscience, Fred could not bear to see her mowing her own lawn when he was more than capable of fitting her into his schedule.
One morning he walked down to the end of the lane, and he knocked on her door. It took a moment, but the door finally opened, and a much older woman appeared.
“Good morning maam,” Fred said with a smile. “My name is Fred and I do yard work; lawn mowing, leaf raking, hedge trimming and lawn thatching. I was wondering if I might mow your lawn for you.”
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “No. I have my daughter come over and mow my lawn for me. But thank you for asking young man.”
“Okay then. Here is my phone number. Please don’t hesitate to call me if the mowing and yard work gets to be too much for her,” Fred stated as he handed her a business card.
“Thank you young man,” she said.
“You’re welcome. Have a nice day,” he said and then he turned to walk away.
“Yes. You have a nice day also,” she said before Fred walked off.
A few weeks later Fred’s phone rang. It was the daughter of the old woman down the lane. She asked if he was the young man that did the lawn mowing. Fred explained his services to her, and she hired him to mow her mother's lawn from now on. It would seem that as soon as she found out about Fred’s service, it suddenly became too much of a chore for her to mow her mother's lawn now.
Whenever Fred would mow the old woman’s lawn, she would watch from the window. One day, after a month or so, the woman was waiting out by her front door when Fred finished mowing.
“Young man! Do you have time to come inside?” she asked.
“Yes I do maam,” Fred replied.
He put his equipment away, cleaned up his hands and headed for the front door. The woman showed him in. She led him to the kitchen where she had a pitcher of lemonade and a couple of glasses. She poured him a glass and then she poured a glass for herself. They sat down and chatted while they drank their lemonade.
“How old are you young man?” she asked.
“Sixteen now maam,” he replied.
“The name is Almae Johnson. You don’t have to be so formal,” she offered.
“Thank you. My full name is, Frederick Williams,” he stated. “But my friends and family call me Fred or Freddy. You can call me Fred if you like.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “Mary, that’s my daughter's name. She told me that she was going to call you up when she found your number. I guess she can’t be bothered to come over and visit anymore. That’s the only reason I had her mowing my lawn. So that she would at least come over once a week.”
“Well… I’m sorry, and I wasn’t aware of that. I certainly didn’t mean to cause any trouble between you and your family,” Fred stated.
“You had no way of knowing. I just have to call her now, if I want to talk,” Almae stated and then took a sip of her lemonade.
“If you don’t mind maam. I can visit when I’m through with your lawn. I don’t mind it at all,” Fred offered.
“Why would a young one such as yourself want to be bothered by an old lady?” she asked. “And please, call me Almae. I insist.”
“Thank you. It’s no bother, really,” he explained. “I used to visit with my grandparents every day until they passed away a few years ago.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” she said. “Were you close?”
“Thank you. Yeah, we were close,” he said. “They used to tell me stories of how it was back in the day. I loved listening to their stories. I miss it, and them.”
“Yes. Well, I have lots of stories to tell as well,” she offered. “But I’ve kept you long enough. Thank you for accepting my daughters request for your services. I hope you can find the time to chat with me again.”
“I would like that,” Fred said as he downed the last swallow of his lemonade.
Almae walked him out and then he thanked her once again and then got in his truck and drove off.
Within a couple of years, Fred’s business grew. He had about four employees now, but he always made it his business to go over and do Almae’s yard work. She would often have home-baked cookies, pies, cakes, and even a few times, she had a full meal ready when he was finished with her lawn. Almae thought of Fred as a grandson and Fred considered her as a grandma figure. All-in-all, they had found a friendship.
Then one afternoon Fred saw a police car drive down the lane and stop in front of Almae’s house. He ran down the lane and then an ambulance drove up. He asked what was going on after he explained his presence. The police officer told him that Almae had a stroke. He asked him if her daughter had been notified and he said that they would take care of all of that. As they were wheeling Almae up to the ambulance, she told the police officer to give Fred the keys to her house. After the ambulance left, Fred went inside and started putting things in order.
He made sure that the stove was off, the coffee pot was unplugged and drained. He checked all of the lights and only left one on in the living room and kitchen. When Almae was released from the hospital, she was taken to an assisted living facility. She passed away six months later.
A few weeks later Fred received a letter from an attorney directing him to come down to his office. When he got there, Almae’s daughter, Mary was there. The lawyer had Almae’s will and he read it to them. It would seem that she had left the house and most of her belongings to him and a few thousand dollars to her daughter, Mary. After Mary left the office, Fred was given a letter from Almae. He sat down and read it.
Dear Fred: You must be wondering what’s going on by now. I have come to enjoy it when you would rake my leaves and mow the grass. Well, as a token of my appreciation, I’m leaving everything to you. This old house, the cars in the garage, the bank accounts and all of my other possessions as well. You have been a most wonderful friend over the past few years, and I wanted to thank you. I know that you will take good care of this old house and someday make it a home.
Fred was a bit taken aback and it took several minutes for him to realize what was happening. The lawyer assured him that everything was proper and legal. Then he had Fred sign some paperwork and it was made official. When all of the paperwork was completed, Fred went back home. He allowed Mary to come to the house and pick up any of her mom’s personal items that she would like. After that, the old house belonged to Fred now.