Chapter twenty five
The aromatic smell of different herbs hit my nostrils in a pleasant way. I was standing in the backyard of the house, checking out my grandpa’s small kitchen garden. There were patches of different green vegetables neatly planted in rows and as for the herbs they were all planted in small white square pots. Three rows of it neatly arranged on a three-tier wooden shelf in the corner of the garden.
“Impressive isn’t it,” grandpa called out from behind.
I averted my attention from the garden and turned to face him. He was standing with a tray of what appears to be our breakfast.
“You have done a beautiful job, Grandpa,” Smiling I walked towards him as he placed the tray of food on top of the wooden table and sitting down on the wooden chair which was located under an aged cherry tree, which blossoms beautifully into pink flowers during the month of March and April. I am a month late to witness its beauty.
Glancing up at the tree that is now dressed in green. I couldn’t help but compare its symbolism to my relationship with Richard. Cherry blossom in Japan symbolizes the fleeting nature of life and beauty- one moment it’s there present full of color; the next moment, it’s not.
Just like how it was for us.
But the tree will be dressed in its pink colors again come spring and I know my life will see the colors that he managed to stomp on.
Shifting my attention on the food before me,“hmm smells delicious, I missed your waffles,” taking in the mouthwatering smell as I took my plate of waffles from the tray, which was served with whipped cream and blueberries.
“Eat to your heart’s content Ell. I thought we could have our breakfast here just like the old times.” Smiled grandpa.
“Thank you.” I smiled cutting and forking a big bite of the waffle combined with the whipped cream and the juicy blueberries, “Delicious.” I muttered.
“Do you want to come with me now to the shop and pick the flowers for your parents or you want to come by later?” asked grandpa.
“I’ll come with you.” I nodded. Taking a sip of the freshly squeezed orange juice. I have nothing to do in the house. I might as well leave with my grandpa.
He nodded in agreement as he took a bite of the waffle.
“Will you be free for lunch? I want to eat at Shelly’s.” It was a small diner located just five minutes away from my grandpa’s shop. It was my go-to place to grab a quick bite when I worked at the shop. Being a fairly regular customer, I grew well acquainted with its owner Shelly; she was of the same age as my grandpa and widowed. I tried matchmaking once with them but nothing romantic blossomed between them, they ended up being just good friends.
“Sure I’ll be free. Shelly will be happy to see you.” He beamed.
“More like happy to see you.” I teased.
Grandpa chuckled shaking his head,” Too old for those things Ell. We leave the dating and courting to you young people. Speaking of dating, a large bouquet of flowers was delivered to you this morning. Care to tell me who the gentleman is?” He eyed me curiously.
An uneasy feeling sipped through the nerves of my body, the pleasant mood threatening to leave me,” What kind of flowers?” I tried to sound casual but my erratic heartbeat was trying to expose my nervousness; I didn’t want Grandpa to know about that vile man.
“Red Roses. And it was signed as Dominic King.” He replied.
Heaving a sigh of relieving, I smiled. So he did keep his promise of always delivering roses to me every morning.
Raising his left brow,” So who is he?” asked Grandpa his tone serious.
He is definitely not letting this go. Dominic just had to declare his presence in my life to my Grandpa indirectly huh. What should I do with this man, I smiled thinking about it.
“Must be someone very special to you, to make you avoid your old man’s question. I would like to meet him, meet my competition.” He eyed me seriously folding his arms across his chest, stretching his body slightly and leaning his back on the chair.
I sighed and thought why do I get bombarded with two possessive men at once,” We just started dating recently Grandpa. I want to take things slow and see where it leads us.”
“I understand, I won’t pry into it so much. But I would like to know this. Is he good to you?” asked Grandpa.
“Yes, he is. He is a good man Grandpa.” I smiled.
“Good to know Ell. I would like to meet him, maybe you should bring him here on your next visit.”
“I’ll have to check up on him first, he is quite busy with work.” I tried to convince Grandpa, hoping he would drop it. I feel it is too early to make the formal introductions. I would eventually do it but not now.
" I see, but just tell him I am watching him,” warned Grandpa.
" I’ll make sure to tell him that.” I chuckled.
I stretched out my legs and leaned back on the chair lazily, the air in the atmosphere was quite warm, the cherry tree giving a comfortable shade from the heat of the morning sun rays. If I could I would just laze out here the whole day buried my nose in some good book.
“Shall we get ready and push off then,” asked Grandpa.
“Ah, I feel so lazy all of a sudden. The place is tempting me to stay here.”
“You can stay back for longer if you want to.” offered grandpa as he put the empty plates and glasses on the tray.
“No, it’s fine. Here let me take it. You go get ready. I’ll wash it and get ready and meet you in twenty minutes.” I picked up the tray and walked towards the house followed by my grandpa.
Once I was done with the dishes. I took the red roses and headed upstairs to my room. Filled the empty vase with water and arranged the flowers in the vase and kept it on top of the side table beside my bed.
I clicked a picture of the flower and send it to Dominic with a message of thank you.
Changing quickly into my skinny jeans and a feminine white lace cold shoulder top and putting all my needs inside my black tote bag, I closed the door behind me and walked downstairs.
Grandpa was waiting for me in his black Chevy truck. Once settled in the car he drove the car out of the driveway of our house and into the road. There was some old country song playing on the radio.
“How is Jemi and why didn’t she come along too.” asked grandpa looking ahead on the road as he drove the car.
“She is fine. She got tied down with work so she couldn’t come. She sends her love to you.”
“Well give my love to her too. Tell her I expect to see her on your next visit. It will be nice to take you girls to John’s lake house, you girls need a break.” A trip to Uncle John’s lake house was a regular thing when Jemi came home with me for holidays. I do agree with Grandpa we do need a break together away from the noise of the city and just relax in the wilderness. It’s been a long time since we did that.
“I will grandpa. Do you still have Joey working in the shop to assist you?”
“He is, very efficient that young man, makes my job around the shop five times easier. He wanted to leave last month but I convinced him to stay, gave him a raise.” He gave a soft laugh.
“Clever of you. Glad to know he is still there. I don’t like the idea of you running around and doing all the work.”
Grandpa nodded in agreement. Finally reaching the shop, he parked the car in the parking area. And we headed towards the shop.
“Wow, you have really revamped the whole set up of the shop grandpa. I am impressed.” I stopped in my tracks and admired the exterior decoration of the shop. There was a pink climbing rose flower nicely planted in a copper pot and the flower beautifully adorned the door frame of the shop and to the left, there was a pick decorative bicycle with cane basket in the front planted with pink beautiful flowers and green creepers. The whole set up looked so beautiful.
“It was Shelly’s idea, I wanted a new look for the shop and I let her do whatever she wanted. It turned out fine.” beamed grandpa.
I eyed him playfully giving him a sly smile,” You guys should date already. Too much of mushiness and cute stuff going on here.”
Grandpa just laughed at my comments shaking his head and walked into the shop.
I followed behind him. The smell of sweet fragrance of flowers hit my nostrils as soon as I was inside the shop, I inhaled deeply closing my eyes.
“Ell so good to see you.” Greeted a young male voice.
I opened my eyes and saw Joey walking towards me from the cash register. He was a small build man with dark hair and had freckles on his nose. Joey was just two years younger to me.
I approached him and gave him a hug,” Hey Joey. Good to see you too.”
Releasing each other,” For how long will you be here.” asked Joey.
" I’m going back on Monday,” I told him.
“Work dragging me back early,” I said apologetically,” Hope the old man’s not working you too much.” I teased.
“Na he is fine. The shop’s doing very well,” he assured.
“Ell, why don’t you come here and pick the flowers you want.” called grandpa from the far right of the shop which was stacked up with rows and rows of different flowers in huge cane baskets.
“Sure” I called out,” will catch up later okay Joey.” giving him a small smile.
“Sure Ell.” He returned the smile and walked towards the cash register.
I approached Grandpa who was shifting some beautiful white orchids in a cane basket.
" Except for these white Orchids, they are for my customer. Pick whatever you want Ell.” offered Grandpa.
“I’ll take mom’s favorite the gerberas.” I started pulling out different colors of the gerberas and neatly tied them into two medium bunch, one for mom and the other for dad.
I borrowed the car key from grandpa and walked out of the shop not before telling him to meet me for lunch at Shelly’s. Settling myself inside the car I drove myself towards the cemetery.
After driving for half an hour. I finally reached the cemetery, parked the car in the parking area and walked towards the front gate of the cemetery. Walking beside rows of graves I finally reached my parents grave.
Placing each bunch of flowers on top of their tome stone I sat down on the grass, feeling nostalgic but not in a pleasant way because the last time I visited them was after I got engaged to Richard. I wanted to bring Richard but he couldn’t come, so I came alone and shared the news with them.
I always make conversations with them updating about my life whenever I visit them. And like always I had my heartfelt conversation with them and finally decided to leave and head towards Shelly’s.
Many people would find it very weird to find me sitting down and conversing this way. But I find it so therapeutic, this is how I slowly healed and to fully come to terms with the death of my parents.
I still remember that fatal day when I received the news that parents were no more as if it were yesterday. Although I was just six years old at that time, it was such a life-altering incident for me so it never left my mind nor the memory ever hazy.
My parents were active social workers working for the U.N (United Nations) so they always had to travel for work. And I was left with grandpa most of the time whenever they couldn’t take me along with them. One such trip they never returned because that fatal day the plane they were traveling in crashed, there were no survivors.
My six-year-old mind could not understand why mom and dad would never come back.
I remember asking grandpa,” Why won’t they come back, Grandpa. Is it because they don’t love us anymore?”
My grandpa’s exact words were,” Never ever think that way Ell. They love you so much, they are in heaven now and one day when our time comes we will be reunited with them. But for now, it is just you and grandpa okay. I love you so much Ell always remember that. I would do anything to make you happy.”
I remember crying and hugging him telling him I love him too, still with so much doubt as to why I won’t be seeing my parents anymore. But less upset because they were in heaven and heaven is where Jesus stayed and it was a happy place and I would be reunited with them just as grandpa told me.
In the mists of all the confusion and dark scenario, I had a grandpa to hold my hand and lead me through the darkness. And I was always thankful for it but like all human, I yearned and questioned for something that I didn’t have and that was, what was life like to grow up ina family where both your parents were alive. And so I grew up keeping in my mind that one day I will build a complete family with the one I love.
I think this was the reason why I held on to Richard for so long even after knowing full well that I was drowning myself. At that time I thought that if I love him hard and be there for him whenever he needs me, he would stop taking me for granted and love me as much as I love him. And build the kind of family that I always wanted.
Oh, how wrong my perception was. A hard lesson but I did realized that, love indeed makes you do crazy things and you lose yourself but if its with the right person the crazy things you do is actually that liberates you and losing yourself just so you find the real you and fall together; fall absolutely in love with each other.
And I am heading towards that road with patted breathe to fall in love again,with full of insecurities and doubts but still marching ahead because I feel in all the fibre of my body that I might just have met the Right One.
I waved at Shelly as I entered the small diner and walked towards her.
She waved back,” Oh my this is such a pleasant surprise. When did you come?” She came out from behind the register and hugged me.
She was a tiny woman with deep caramel eyes and a face that is always plastered with a warm smile. Her grey hair was neatly tied in a bun and she was wearing a vintage floral dress, the length of the dress reaching her calf.
“I came yesterday,” I said hugging her back.
Releasing me she starts to inspect me, eyeing up and down holding my right hand bending her body a little backward,” My look at you. Beautiful as always. Men must be falling head over heels for you.”
“Thank you, Shelly.” I smiled blushing slightly because we were starting to draw the attention of the people in the diner.
“Come let’s go grab a seat and catch up.” She leads me towards an empty booth in the far left corner.
Settling down in the booth we started catching up on our lives. I complimented her about the decoration of the shop, telling her how beautiful it was. And to my utter surprise she blushed and told me she just wanted to help my Grandpa, I was forcing on all my willpower not to burst out laughing witnessing this cute detail.
About a half hour later we were joined by Grandpa. Shelly took our orders, we ordered the specialty of the diner the chicken fried combo meal. It had three large pieces of fried chicken, small portions of mac and cheese, green salad and a pine of fruit beer.
Since Shelly had to mind the register she left us after taking our orders.
After the meal was done and bills paid. We were getting up to leave, then a tall rugged looking man with dark brown hair approached us looking at me,” Arabella Dickens?” He questioned sounding unsure.