“Okay, Number Five,” I said. “Let’s go find a waterfall.”
Now, as way of explanation: My grandmother used to drive me up the wall. She was always calling out to me, saying, “Frank, Bobby, Bill, … ah, Guy.” I mean I loved her to death; you’d think she would know my name instantly and not confuse me with all the other grandchildren. And then it happened. I became a grandparent. One day I caught myself calling out, “Ah, Faith, Ansley, Alma, ah, Kylee, come here a minute.” I had become my grandmother.
To circumvent this horrible condition, I decided on a strategy. I numbered them. Now, I don’t have to remember their names. I don’t get confused on who I’m calling out to. I just call their number, in order of birth. It works great. It sets me apart from the other grandparents. They seem to get a kick out of it.
Number Five was deserving of a treat. I’d taken her sisters, Number One and Number Two, to Alaska. Actually, I’d taken Number One to Alaska Twice. And I’d taken their cousin, Number Three to Alaska also. Number One and Number Two and I have traveled to New York City via an overnight AmTrak train ride with private sleeping compartments. It was time to give some others attention.
Number Five, six years of age, and I found ourselves in the Northeast Georgia Mountains. It was a waterfall trip. The first stop was the trail leading to Anna Ruby Falls. Anna Ruby Falls is actually two falls. The waters of York Creed drops fifty feet into the gorge below, and the waters of Curtis Creek cascades 153 feet. At the base they combine to form Smith Creek.
We hiked up the access trail. She stopped, thankfully, to read every informational sign on posts along the trail. The signs explained the various features of the forest, the animals, the plants, the water seeping from the rocks. I say “thankfully” because every sign gave me a chance to rest. Spoiler alert, dear reader: If you ever visit this place, the trail to the falls is uphill all the way.
At one point I stopped and called, “Number Five, come here.” She did. I bent down beside her and pointed. “Look up there.” She did.
“Holy smoke,” she exclaimed as she spotted the water rushing down the side of Tray Mountain. “That’s beautiful. Come on. Let’s go.” She started running. I followed at a more mature pace.
At the observation deck I caught up to her. “Number Five,” I called. “Don’t get too close to the edge.” I pointed to the warning sign. Another visitor to the falls asked, “Did you call her Number Five?” I told her I did. I explained my system. She laughed.
We hiked back down the mountain. She asked me if she could swim in the lake. “Number Two, said you would let me do anything I wanted.” She went swimming.
The next day found us at Amicalola Falls, the home of the Southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the home of Georgia’s tallest waterfall, 729 feet. Again it was uphill all the way to the base of the falls. Again, thankfully, she stopped to read every sign.
Our trip completed, we headed to the car. “Number Five,” I said. “I really enjoyed this.”
“Me, too,” she said. “But I need to tell you something. I’m not Number Five; I’m Number Six.”