My parents once left my oldest two brothers in the care of a lovely older woman named Myrtle.
Mama called her, “Myr-telll,” as Myrtle moved in a slow and easy way.
My parents came home from wherever they had been and as they drove into our driveway they saw my oldest brother holding my second-oldest brother out the third floor window by the ankles, my second brother swung back and forth with his arms stretched out in front of him in concentration.
My parents froze, afraid to scream, “Pull your brother in!” and terrified that if they ran in the house and came up behind their son he would let go of his brother. Deer in the headlights had nothing on my parents.
They heard their second son yell in glee, “Touched it!” and his older brother pulled him in the window. My parents heard their happy chatter as they stormed in the house and ran up the three flights of stairs.
Myrtle moved slowly behind my parents, needlework held close to her jersey-print dress.
The boys sat with their backs against the wall, their cheeks flushed with excitement.
“WHAT were you doing?!” My father started.
My oldest brother blinked calmly, “We wanted to see if we could touch the chimney from the window…”
“I did it!” my second brother exclaimed as he held out the red fingertips rough from where they had brushed the chimney bricks.
Myrtle broke my parents’ shock with a wispy laugh, “Isn’t that cute? Boys will be boys.”
Myrtle stayed a close friend but she never watched any of us again – not without some other adult’s supervision.