It all began one Sunday towards the end of April when Sarah gave birth to a sweet little girl. She was perfectly formed from the top of her fuzzy blond head to the tip of her tiny pink toes. Sarah thought she was just the most beautiful baby she had ever seen but, of course, no parent had ever said that before.
“She has dimples in both cheeks,” said the nurse, handing the tiny bundle of love to her doting mom.
“Where?” asked Sarah. “I don’t see them.”
“Tickle her under the chin and you’ll see.” Sarah did so and was delighted when the baby squirmed and gave the closest example of a smile that a newborn infant can make.
“What shall we name her,” Sarah asked when the proud father made his appearance. “We’ve gone through every name in the book and none of them seemed right. I just can’t make up my mind.”
“How about Sunday,” said her husband, whose name was Ray. “She was born on the Lord’s Day, so let’s call her Sunday Sue.”
“Why that’s lovely,” breathed Sarah. Looking down at the infant, she cooed, “Hi there,
“I’ll plant an orange tree in her honor,” said Ray. “Just like we planned.”
When Sunday came home from the hospital, she delighted them in many ways. She had such a happy disposition that it wasn’t long before they were calling her “Sunny” and the nickname stuck throughout the years.
On her first birthday, her daddy carried her into the yard and set her down beneath the little orange tree, promising bright golden globes of fruit in the years to come. Sunny plucked one of the shiny green leaves and crawled away to explore the yard.
She grew and continued to blossom, making weekly trips to the beach near their Florida dream house, charming everyone with her sunshiny smile and bright orange-gold curls.
On her second birthday, a picnic feast was set out on a blanket beneath the tree which had started to flower. A tropic breeze blew in, rustling the leaves and blowing showers of fragrant white blooms among the picnickers, causing Sunny to laugh and clap her hands in delight. A flower landed on her head and she left it there, posing for a snapshot.
She was four when the first golden globes of sunshine made their appearance on the fast maturing tree. It was taller than Sunny now and she set her small chair beneath the tree to play house with her dolls. A smaller tree was planted nearby for a baby brother was born during the previous summer. The following year, Sunny learned to pluck the ripe oranges and savor them, using the back of her hand to wipe away the luscious juices which ran down her chin.
One moonlit night when the tree was covered with blossoms and a fresh breeze wafted in from the sea, Sunny led her first love by the hand to stand with her beneath the tall orange tree and smell the flowers. Dimples depressed the roses in her cheeks as she lifted her golden head to smile at him in invitation. Tenderly he lifted her face to his and delivered her very first kiss.
The years passed, filled with coral sunsets and dances beneath the stars. Sunny turned 21 and planned a wedding in the garden. The young man, who’d delivered her first kiss and remained loyal to her throughout the years, stood beneath the orange tree awaiting his beautiful bride. Proudly Sunny walked the bridal path with attendants dressed in citrus colors -- yellow, lime and palest orange. The garden bloomed fragrant with the now full-grown trees, (there were four of them). Hibiscus shrubs full of colorful blooms lined the edge of the yard.
Sunny went away with her husband, saying goodbye to the lovely garden. But she returned weeping four years later. After greeting her parents, who embraced her with hearts full of love, she fled to the garden, threw her arms around her tree and sobbed her heart out. The husband who loved her so much, an army lieutenant, had been killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb.
The smiles were gone for a while but broken hearts do mend. Here beneath the orange tree Sunny would return time after time to relive her cherished memories, for memories need never die and the tree would last her a lifetime.
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