On a crisp, sunny spring morning, a merry band of well-dressed young children parades down Emmett Place, looking like they’ve just escaped Mass at Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Some skip, a few hopscotch, others weave, but most march in unison. The girls—hair in pigtails, ponytails, or pixie cuts—wear frilly white dresses, white lace socks, and patent-leather shoes. All carry flowers: a single stem or bouquet. The boys sport combed hair, dress pants, shiny black shoes, and starched white shirts neatly tucked in. Neckties are the norm, but a couple flaunt their individuality with bow ties. Each lad clutches a string anchoring a brightly colored balloon bobbing to and fro in the wind. The entire procession appears to be from an innocent time long past. As the parade rounds the cul-de-sac and approaches the second house from the end, each child turns, smiles, and waves toward a window on the first floor.
Inside, beyond the billowy curtains, propped up in a hospital bed, sits a frail, ninety-two-year-old Genevieve. Her kind eyes dance with delight as she waves to the children. It’s uncertain whether she knows any of them, but that doesn’t matter. What does is the long-absent and much-needed joy these children seem to bring her.
The last girl, holding a single daisy, stops and beckons Genevieve to join the parade. Amused and tempted, Genevieve chuckles for a moment before a wave of sadness erases her smile. Her eyes drift to an old black-and-white photo hanging on the front wall. In it, a young girl with a soft brown bob that frames her cherubic face. She, too, wears a frilly white dress, white lace socks, and patent-leather shoes, and holds a posy of daisies.