Grandpa’s Fruit Tree

My teenagers hate it when I try to share a story from my past. Yesterday I was trying to tell my 19 year old about how as a kid I had records with story books so I could listen to Heidi and Mary Poppins and such. She could barely be bothered to look at me and as soon as I paused she left the room.

I was immediately reminded of my Grandma’s face that day when I was maybe thirteen years old and she tried to get me to try a peach ( I think it was a peach – it’s extra-damning that I can’t even remember that detail) from a tree that my deceased Grandpa had planted years before. As a kid I despised almost every kind of fruit, and for her to be practically begging me to take one bite of some stupid gross fruit just seemed mean. Hooray, the man I barely remember grew some nasty stuff I hate, why are you torturing me with it?

I can still see the desperation turning to pain in her eyes as she realized I wasn’t going to even pretend to nibble the peach.

Now I know how long it takes to cultivate fruit trees. Now I know how profound it is that a person can reach across time and space with the literal or figurative fruits of their labor, extending their love even beyond the grave by the thoughtful and loving things they did with their lives. She was trying to teach me this, wanting me to participate in this miracle, wanting to see that their years of hard work for posterity was truly going to nourish the generations to come.

Not that this compares with my stupid stories about listening to 45’s. I just remember my own disgust when I see it mirrored in my child’s face, in her refusal to even humor me for a couple minutes. In her self-centered ignorance about what it means for the past and the future to be connected in a meaningful embrace.

That I can only completely understand what her eyes were saying from this distance, when the peach and she and my Grandpa are all long gone, makes me feel like the biggest fool ever.

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