“If you could find one thing in this garden, what would it be?”
“I would find my life.”
The salesman handed my grandmother the metal detector. She swung it in front of her as if it was the old broom she kept stashed behind the kitchen door ready to sweep up crumbs I dropped from her molasses cookies.
For the next hour, all I heard was an irritating beep coming from my grandmother’s arms. I made myself comfortable under her towering pine tree and watched. The salesman soon joined me hoping I would run into the house and bring him something to drink. I let him sweat – I was more interested in what Grandma might uncover. I didn’t want to miss the treasure she seemed to think was buried under all that rich black soil.
She was working her way around the rhubarb now. I hoped she’d knock some of it down as I really hated the sour sauce she made from it. Pretty soon, the salesman started snoring against the back of the tree despite the needles itching though our backsides.
Why on earth would a salesman come knocking at Grandma’s door with a machine like that? I had heard something about them at church. Mr. Jim told us you could uncover a fortune if you looked hard enough. Grandma had a long way to go from the looks of it.
I stretched my arms and stood to catch a closer view. Surely her arms must be getting tired by now. If she was to buy this machine, it was definitely broken in. Back and forth she swung that disc until I was sure her shoulders must be blistering with pain.
“Grandma. Do you want some help?”
“Don’t need any. You just sit there and wait.”
“What are you hoping to find? There’s nothing in that garden but dirt.”
She paid me no attention and made another sweep around the far side. The sound was starting to get to me along with my rumbling stomach. I nudged the salesman awake with the toe of my sneaker. He wiped his drool with the back of his hand then glanced over at the garden.
“She said she wanted to find her life. What do you think that means?” He eyed me like he actually thought I might know. So I took a wild stab.
“My Grandpa died last spring and she hasn’t been the same ever since. I think taking care of this farm alone is hard on her.” I watched my Grandma’s scarf slip off her head. “She sometimes still talks to him sort of like she does to God. You know – out loud.” I pinched my eyebrows together. “Get the picture?” He nodded and looked at his watch. I could see he was starting to figure out this sale might not happen no matter how long he laid under the tree.
“I have to go now ma’am. Do you want to buy it or not?”
“One more time around.”
“I’ll give you five more minutes, then you buy it or I go.”
That piece of ground never got covered so quickly. Suddenly she stopped and fell to the earth – digging with both hands. I looked at the salesman and sprinted over to where Grandma had fallen. When I got there, she was holding both hands out while dirty tears streaked down her face. The salesman followed me in close pursuit.
“What did you find, Grandma?” I dropped down beside her anxious to see her treasure. She turned her face to mine while slowly opening her crust filled hand. “I don’t see anything.” Her eyes filled with more tears.
“Look closer.” I sifted the soft black soil through my fingers. A flash of gold caught my eye. Lifting the object in front of my face, I found a band of gold.
“Whose is it?” I could feel this was one of those moments that I might want to remember long after it happened.
“It’s my life. I have it back now.” I blinked. “It’s your Grandpa’s wedding band. He lost it the morning before he died. It must have slipped off of his finger when we were planting. We had to bury him without it.”
The salesman reached for his detector and left while I remained sitting until long after dinner sharing the joy of my grandmother’s face in her garden of memories.
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