Entries in personal stories (1)

Tuesday
Jun232015

A Gift from Dad: a heartwarming story

This is a beautiful story written by Pat Martinez. Thank you, Pat, for sharing your story with us.

Yesterday, with a case of blueberries and various other fruits in my car trunk, I stopped at the grocery for a few other needed items. High in a refrigerated case, above the packaged lettuces, I happened to notice a row of small-boxed Rainier cherries.

While at the beach one summer, my father already in a degenerative state, I drove inland to a farmer's market hoping they'd have Rainier cherries for Dad. It was the end of the season, and the cherries were few, but I picked through browning cherries, found enough pink and yellows, rushed to the post office and overnighted them to Dad for Father's Day. When he received them, fully aware of the expense, he chided me for the gift, but, it was easy to defend myself, "Dad, I wanted to do it for you."

The cherries at the grocery didn't have a price, and Rainier cherries can be very expensive. I hunted down the grocery man and asked him how much.

"Those aren't even in our system yet, so they shouldn't be out on the shelves, but I'll give them to you for $4.99.

I gulped. It was such a small box.

"They're usually $7 or $8," he added.

"Thanks, I'll take 'em."

I brought them home, not fully understanding the purchase, for the house was full of fruit, from my food co-op pick-up that morning and Tony's recent watermelon indulgence when he found them on sale for $3.99 each. I was feeling a little guilty for buying the cherries.

My grandmother had a Queen Anne (similar or same to Rainiers), tree in her side yard that produced abundant, juicy, beautiful cherries. Dad and Mom were visiting his mother and while there, sent me a shoebox full of cherries. I was on my third week at tennis camp and the box of cherries was a welcome treat and reminder that I still had parents.

My Dad and I always welcomed cherry season together. The neighbor's mother owns an orchard and one summer her grandchildren sold us bags of cherries from her orchard. It's delightful when children's lemonade stands become cherry stands and the time of summer when bing cherry salesmen can be found on almost every major corner. If Dad was coming to visit or if I was going to visit him, I'd always pick up a pound or two of cherries. If Dad was with me, he'd always stop and support his local cherry entrepreneur.

The night before Father's Day, when Tony and I discussed it as my first celebration without Dad, I couldn't talk. I would begin to weep and we'd change the subject. In the previous months, I had intentionally shut down my thoughts of Dad--it had become so difficult to constantly think of him--where he was, what he was doing...I couldn't distinguish what was my imagination and what was possibly real. I saw Dad in my mind's eye, like he was near, like he spoke to me, but reality and common sense told me he wasn't and didn't. I wanted it to be real, but couldn't make it so.

I had to intentionally quit thinking of him, and I felt like a traitor.

I turned the photo of him on my desk, in his prime with wavy dark hair and his crooked smile, away from my view.

This morning I awoke at 5:45, unable to go back to sleep, and I wasn't sure why.

The box of cherries popped into my mind. I made my way downstairs and pulled the cherries out of the fridge, washed them and savored the first one. I brought them to my desk. With my glasses on, I saw that they weren't Rainier cherries but a new cherry: Orondo Ruby. I succumbed to the blurb: Go to orondoruby.com to find out what makes this cherry so unique!

This is what I found:
In his family's Rainier cherry orchard in Washington State, 4th generation grower Marcus Griggs noticed one particular tree that matured earlier with fruit that tasted sweeter and was more red-blushed. Careful studies revealed this was a brand new varietal – a gift from Mother Nature!

The word gift hung in my thoughts. Of course! Today was Father's Day. I could no longer buy cherries for Dad--but maybe, in a way that defied explanation and reason, he had bought them for me.