Orange marmalade on sourdough and boiled spinach on rice. Those two things would always remind him of his grandfather. The scent of orange blossoms and spicy green scent of a happy garden. Wet bare feet and dirty fingernails and running in for supper with skin tight and tan from the sun and wind. Grandma always made delicious food somehow transforming the offerings of their humble garden and even humbler salary into mouth-tantalizing art. Those were wonderful memories, too, but when Grandma was in town or in her art room and “the boys” were hungry, as she called him and grandpa, he would make orange marmalade on toast or boil up some spinach to add a little “healthy stuff” to left-over rice, if toast wasn’t quite enough.
The orange trees were still in bloom, weeping petals as they stood sentry in front of gran’s house. Grandpa had wanted to be buried on his own land so he could be close to gran in case he went first. “But,” he told them, wagging a finger, “not where you can see from a window. I don’t want you pining away, dear. You can think I’m just in the garden weedin’, ’cause that’s prolly where I’ll be, God willin’.”
Those were some of the last words gran or he would hear him say and he thought of them now as he sipped on bland reception wine and gazed at the fresh turned soil a walking distance from the house. To their credit, the rest of the reception party, though large, was subdued – a low murmur broken only by quiet laughter as grandpa’s loved ones remembered his life.
The grandson hugged gran on his way out. He wanted to walk alone along the paths grandpa had shown and walked with him for so many years. At about the same moment that he reached the brook, he felt like someone was watching. One of the kids from the reception had followed, perhaps, or maybe even Mum to check that he was okay. She knew how close he and grandpa had been. He paused for a moment, though, because in spite of reading stories where the characters felt people watching, he had never actually experienced that. He looked around slowly.