The Peach Tree

The remainder of a peach is sitting on the counter at my grandmother’s house

Its tender yellow flesh and acid tang sweetness now settle in my young stomach

Its juice fills my blood and runs down my chin

The jagged seed is all that’s left of the once vibrant plump fruit

I assume that it should be discarded, but my grandmother shows me how to plant it in a terracotta pot in the backyard.

On a fall afternoon I dress for a first date, carefully selecting my clothing and planning my words

Excitement and anxiety dance together in my heart

I’ve waited a long time for this first date and my hope is full

Before I go, my father calls. “You need to come say goodbye to Poppie”, he tells me

It’s not unexpected, but today it still feels sudden to me.

As I enter the room I see my grandfather in his bed

My grandmother is leaning over him speaking imperceptibly into his ear

As I approach him I begin to hear her voice, whisper quiet as she sings him his favorite hymn

Her eyes meet mine briefly but can’t be held long from the last glimpses of her love

I say goodbye to my grandfather but can’t help feeling like I’m intruding

on something far more significant; the tender passing of a shared life

I’ll leave this room shortly to go to my date

The sweet flesh of my Grandparents life together has been consumed by time,

but the seed of that moment has been planted in my heart.

Years later my sons play on the floor of my grandmother’s house

The box of toys that she keeps on the bottom shelf of her bookcase is one of their greatest joys

As they construct new worlds out of the inanimate plastic dinosaurs,

my grandmother cooks their lunch in the kitchen

The smell of fried chicken and white gravy intermingle with the sound of the song she hums to herself

Occasionally she breaks her song to call out to the boys, making sure they are safe

Mostly though, she does this to entice them with the food they are so eager to eat;

her own playful little game with them

When lunch has been consumed, my grandmother pulls out her world famous

chocolate cake which she always seems to have on hand

It is moist and dense and she warms it so that the fudge on top is molten

My boys can hardly contain their excitement as she scoops out a little vanilla

ice cream to go on top of their pieces

Once they have their bowls, she will sit on the couch with them as they eat and watch their favorite cartoon,

smiling and listening as they chatter on about the story.

When my boys are a little older we go to visit my grandmother at the home she lives in

Every Tuesday at 9am we arrive to find her dressed in her finest and ready to go

As we drive, she watches the sun bounce off of the highway signs and

wears the “rock and roll” sunglasses that we bought her

At the coffee shop, she introduces her grandsons to everyone she can, telling them how proud she is of them

When I bring her coffee to her, she sips it and shakes her head. “Too strong” I ask.

“Yes, too strong.” she replies

I add a little water and she sips it again, pleased with its new balance

As she drinks her coffee, she holds my youngest son’s hand and talks cheerfully with my wife

Afterwards, when we drop her off at her home, she invites us to stay for lunch in their cafeteria

As we eat, she beams with pride; her family sitting around her sharing a meal (in front of all her friends).

My family and I are planning a picnic on a spring afternoon

Homemade granola and roasted nuts are portioned out for each of us

Sliced apples and freshly washed peaches sit on the countertop waiting to be sorted

Before we go, my father calls. “You need to come say goodbye to Gran”, he tells me

It’s not unexpected, but today it feels sudden to me.

As we stand around her bed she sleeps quietly

My sons touch her face and brush back her hair

We sing “amazing grace” because it’s the only hymn we’re sure the boys know all the words to

The nurse tells us that she’s mostly gone and won’t likely respond, but as we sing her lips move and

I think that she’s singing along in her own way

We tell her that we love her; that it’s ‘ok’ to go

I tell her that years ago she planted a seed in me when my grandfather died

That seed was her love. And that seed has grown into a tree, whose fruit is singing over her now

And one day, those fruit will plant their own trees

And her love will have produced an orchard.

  0 comments for “The Peach Tree

  1. May 3, 2012 at 2:32 am

    A very lovely tribute to a very lovely lady. How blessed you are to have parents who taught you to love and honor your grandparents. I was studying Dt. recently and read that the commandment to honor our father and mother is the key to success in all relationships. May you know the joy of the presence of God as you remember Gran (that is what my grandchildren call me. Joanne Gardner

  2. May 3, 2012 at 2:44 am

    Wow. Your Grandmother was obviously very Special to you. Through your writing, it is apparent that she seeded that love in you. God Bless you and your family. T. Angers

  3. May 3, 2012 at 2:51 am

    Awesome job today, Ben! I loved the words you chose. It was a perfect tribute to a very special lady.

  4. May 3, 2012 at 3:34 am

    Very sweet. Brought tears to my eyes.

  5. May 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Wow, this is beautifully written and so heartfelt and insightful even in the midst of loss. Thank you for sharing.

  6. May 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    That was a very well written tribute Ben. Not only did she plant a seed but your parents encouraged the love between a grandson and a grandmother. That's a very special gift and a rarity nowadays as I watch families drift apart whether in miles or in their hearts. Thanks so much for sharing. Grace B.

  7. May 8, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    It is so true that out of the heart, the mouth speaketh. It is so clear that your heart held great treasures and memories of your gran. Your poignant story paints a picture well worth remembering. How often we don't take the time or make the time to spend with those we love, to sit and share a meal, listen, sing a song or just hold their hand. Thank you Ben for reminding each of us how fruitful this can be. I know your Gran's heart is completely full now and she is called "Blessed". It is hard to let them go but oh how she enriched each of your lives.

  8. May 8, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I remember you as a small boy, Ben, in the days when your parents gave me and my husband loving guidance as we built our own family. I see their beautiful hearts in you and your words. Although I did not know your grandmother well….it is clear that she "grew" you all into a strong, vibrant orchard. I hope that love continues to grow and be nourished.

  9. Darcy
    September 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Exquisite.

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