Lily and George drove down the country road for the last time. “I told you not to look back.” George said, “Yes, it looks lonely. It will until the new owners move in.”
“I worry about it, it seems so.….empty.” sniffling Lily was embarrassed because she had promised herself no silly emotions this morning.
“Well, dear wife it is empty, see that trailer behind us.” Trying to change the subject George rubbed his back, “How did we accumulate all this junk in thirty years?”
Lily wondered aloud, “Will they take care of the gardens? Will they pick the berries when they ripen?”
“They were looking forward to that most of all; you know that, now just stop. Besides it doesn’t matter, we’ll never see the old homestead again. And, just so you know, I told the kids not to stop by the old place and not to report to you, so please just agree that it’s time to move on.”
“I’m sorry I’m being silly, please turn the radio on.” Lily tried to brighten.
“Mom, these cacti are gorgeous, and look at the orange tree? You have your own orange tree?”
Mother and daughter toured the small yard. A lot of hard, hot work went into the lushness. Lily glowed as her daughter ooowed and ahhhed at her desert plantings. “The trees and the Saguaro cactus were already here. We planted everything else.”
“With all this beauty, mom, you won’t miss the lilacs and especially all that mowing you used to do. Tell me, was it hard to get used to having neighbors?”
“Don’t let her fool you, Deanna, she loves it. Yacketty yack, yack, all day long. Coffee club here, Bible study there, every afternoon at the pool. If truth be told, she actually wishes she had listened to me earlier.” George carried a tray of lemonade and raised an eyebrow in his wife’s direction, “Right dear?”
Turning as red as the flower on the barrel cactus Lily agreed, “Yes, I suppose so, but honey, it was hard to leave the place where we became a family. So many memories. As much as I enjoy living here, I do miss the old place once in awhile….” a question trailed behind her words.
“No, Mom. I promised Dad that I wouldn’t drive by, that way I wouldn’t have to lie to you when you asked. Besides, it makes me sad too. That is until I saw the paradise that surrounds you. Just look at that mountain, we don’t have sights like this back home.”
Josh tugged on his grandmother’s shorts, “On the phone you said we could go swimming, can we, huh?”
Looking at her daughter, “Shouldn’t we have lunch first? You guys must be hungry after that long trip.”
“Josh, let’s see what Granny has cooked up for lunch, then we can spend all afternoon at the pool.”
After lunch, George enlisted Josh’s help to get the swimming things out of the shed. “Oh, Grandpa you got fun stuff. Can we take this? What about that blue floaty thing? Mom would like that.”
Loaded with towels, books, sunscreen and water bottles the foursome walked the half block to the community pool. Water is a kid magnet, and it drew Josh in like magic.
Sundrenched and exhausted, three hours later, they walked back to the house. “The best part about the swimming pool is that I don’t have to clean it, or worry about which chemicals to add. All we have to do is remember our towels.” George laughed.
Hugging his daughter, “I’m so glad that you and Josh came out for a visit before he starts back to school. Maybe when he gets a little older you can put him on a plane and send him to us for a month or so each summer.”
“Yeah can I huh mom, can I? That would be so awes-” Pointing, Josh couldn’t get the words out. “Grannnn paaa, whuuuuuts thaaaat?”
A little brown Gecko maneuvered the stucco wall, moving ever so quickly. “Oh, that’s Julio, our pet Gecko. He’s just enjoying the sun. I’m surprised he waited this long to show himself”
Deanna finished loading the car. “Mom, we had such a good visit, I just want to say something that I’ve been pondering since you guys moved. Our memories don’t exist in the house or the garden or the trees, they exist in our minds and hearts. Today I realized that now we have lizards instead of lilacs,”
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