Picking Berries


Yesterday gave us a warm sunny day. Yesterday I got up early, wrote for a few hours, took a nap then walked to the garden. You and your sister and brother were in the fenced yard, I could hear you playing. Yesterday I filled the birdbaths, as the chickadees and the sparrows waited for me to get out of their way. They dipped into the clear water, twisting, flapping and splashing-one or two at a time. Raucous fun for a bird. When you heard the water you leaned over the railing and asked to join me. Daddy said okay. Mommy’s friend was in from out of town helping out for a few days. You looked happy, relaxed, cared for and attended to.

I handed you a berry basket. Picking berries, Olallieberries is work that your sister hates. She gets too many scratches and pricks for comfort. She whines at every speck of red blood. She thinks the berry juice is blood, too. She decides to stay home. Only pick the black ones, I remind you. Watch out for poison oak at the back of the rows there. You tell me that you already noticed it and duck under it to get to the last row. When we already have three strawberry baskets full, you find two raspberries from canes I thought died a year back. You offer me one on your palm. Its the sweetest I ever tasted, you say. I wonder if its because we didn’t expect to find a raspberry? I ask you.

When something is rare and you find it, it makes it more special. Its like that with everything, you respond. Grandma, Remember when I told you that you are my sunshine, like the song?

I remember. It was in the car, two days ago and we were listening to Vicki’s CD on the way to the last day of school. I will never forget what you said.

You told me to pause the music and said, I just now understand that song. It was a sad dream, like maybe the boy’s grandma or someone special died and he had a good dream but when he woke up she wasn’t there because she died or something. Maybe she just moved away, but I think she died and he is so sad that he cried. But he still sings about her. And he calls her his sunshine, because she made him feel warm and bright like the sun. And, Grandma, you said to me, tears in your eyes, you are my sunshine. You choked back tears surprised by your own emotion. You touched the wetness on your cheek. I touched mine and patted you on the knee.

Well, you say, mouth bursting with purple juice, “that was true about you being my sunshine. I hope I never will have my sunshine taken away and that you will be alive to meet my kids. They will be your great grandchildren. You will love them. And maybe you will be their sunshine, too. Please be healthy and live for thirty more years.”

That’s my plan, buddy. You must have been so scared when your step-mom was sick, even now watching her, hearing her struggle with all the hard work of healing. Worried that she may not get better, you want to plan, assure your safety. Keenly aware of how fragile life can be.

Yes, you can take one basket to your mommy.

She loves these berries, Grandma.

I have eight baskets, almost enough for a pie. Want to pick again in two or three more days? Then we can roll out the dough, pile in our berries and….

Can you get ice cream for it?

Of course.

Grandma, its okay if we have a couple of reds one in a pie, right?

Sure it ads some sweet to the tart. Makes it perfect. Like life.

“You’ll always know dear, (giggle) how much I love you. Bye Grandma.”

Bye, Sunshine.

Hey, am I your sunshine, too?

You know you are. gma

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