Driving down the road, I peer over at the progress of the new retail building. A man on his hands and knees tends to the soil, where the grass and flowers will be. He has a garden pick in his hand, that I see as he raises it, before bringing it down to the earth.

I was transported in that instant to my grandmother’s garden.

When I visited my uncle this past week–like a child–I asked if I could go outside. I took the dog with me. He went his way; I went mine. I walked over to where my grandmother’s garden would have been, nestled in the corner near the fence dividing the neighbor’s yard, past the rabbit cage where Sylvester used to live. I took notice of how wild all the trees had grown, how the almond tree and walnut tree had been taken down, along with the clothes line that spun. I remember waiting for the almonds, the soft fuzzy skin that would eventually yield, revealing a beautiful almond, and how I would sit at my grandparent’s kitchen table cracking open almonds and walnuts that grew from their trees.

I remembered how much fun I had exploring in this backyard, playing hide and seek and running around like cowboys with my cousin and swinging on the swing set. And I remember the pool table that used to be in another large house-like shed where my grandfather kept his heavy duty carpentry tools and machines; and the pool table that we would play on and how I was told that when I was little–I had my own mini pool stick–I would hop up on the pool table and try to whack my cousin on the head because I seemed to think it was funny. I don’t remember this, but I can imagine this curious and mischievous side of me.

When I got older, I’d rummage through the far back shed, looking through my mother’s old clothes that my grandfather had stored for her. And I remembered those tall eucalyptus trees that I adored, that had burned down because of some careless kids playing with fire. My grandfather was lucky the fire didn’t reach his house. How my heart sank when I arrived on that day to find his home surrounded by fire trucks.

How I love the memory of my grandmother in her garden, tending to the soil, as she tended to all of her children and grandchildren, how she loved us and nourished us and provided sustenance for our bodies and our souls.

And now she nourishes me still, from up above, always with me.M

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