Chocolate Covered Cherries: A childhood memory
She brushed a wisp of auburn hair away from her face, and sighed as she looked out the large back window of the black ’55 Buick. How many more hours would she watch the blur of trees, cows, and pastures passing by as they sped down the winding Texas farm to market roads, to a town called Dawson?
She was tired from the ungodly hour that her father insisted on leaving for any family road trip. They were stacked into the back seat like dominoes set up to fall over, her three brothers, older sister and her. Mama, Daddy, and baby sister, comfortable in the front seat, with plenty of room, while she had tried every bit of spare space that she could fit her five year old body, including the large dash area behind the back seat, which is where she is laying now. Mama had passed out the scrambled egg sandwiches, long ago, and the hunger pangs were making everyone grumpy. Daddy did not believe in stopping for anything, until we got where we were going, not even a bathroom break! “You just should have went before we left the house!”, she would be told, if she ever brought it up.
Are we there yet? “No, Deborah Ann, for the last time! I’ll let you know when we get there!” her mother said with a tone of irritation. Her siblings were sleeping, they had all shifted into various poses of slumber, everyone except her.
Deborah didn’t know where this place was, or why they were going there, she was just along for the ride, an unwilling participant, a victim of her age! Little did she know that this would turn out to be one of her most precious memories!
The scenery started to change, there were large oak tree lined streets, and quaint little houses with children playing in the front yards, swinging on tree swings, and playing hopscotch on the sidewalk. Now, this, is starting to get her attention!
They turned right, onto a street, pulling the large car in the front of the second house on the right, and coming to a stop.
She was in love! This was a home she had dreamed of! It was white, with a large porch on the front, with half pillars framing the steps going up to the front door, rose bushes lining the railing, and a porch swing in the right corner.
Immediately a tall chubby elderly woman with her hair in some sort of strange braid wrapped around her head, and a very lanky elderly man, came out the screen door, letting it snap back with a loud bang. The woman was wearing a dress, and apron, and Deborah noticed the man had a bandana tied around his neck.
As they all fell out of the overcrowded car, the elder couple came to greet them. First the woman hugged her mother, and then the man, but his hug seemed much warmer, and he had the biggest smile, looking as if it were Christmas morning, and her mother was his gift.
They motioned everyone into the house, getting all greetings and reacqaintances out of the way, as they all walked up the wide sidewalk.
Deborah’s mother pulled her to her side, and asked if she remembered her grandparents, and she bashfully shook her head. She had no idea who these people were, and if she had ever met them, she did not recall.
Grandma brought the kids into her kitchen, where lingering in the air was the most delicious aroma! Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cornbread, pinto beans, and sweet tea for everyone, except Deborah, only milk for her; Grandma said she was too young to be drinking tea.
As they gathered around the table to eat dinner, all of the adults getting caught up on family events, except Grandpa, who sat quietly, just watching, listening, and nodding.
After everyone finished their meal, the boys scattered to go exploring around town, and Deborah and her sister went to the living room with Grandpa, while the women cleaned the kitchen.
Grandpa motioned for them to come sit on his lap, and was trying to tell the girls something, but no words came out, so he raised the bandana up, and showed them that there was a hole in his throat, and that’s why he couldn’t speak. Deborah was a little taken aback by it, but her older sister understood, and explained to her that Grandpa had lost his larynx, so he no longer had a voice; all the while Grandpa watched, and nodded.
Grandpa motioned for Deborah to come closer, and convinced her that it was alright to sit with him. His smile was infectious, so it didn’t take long to warm up to him. The sisters laughed at his antics, like he was their own personal entertainment, and he seemed to enjoy that fact!
He was trying out more ways to keep their attention, and at one point shows them that he could sit in his chair, and put both of his feet behind his head while sitting up – the girls giggling in delight! They had their own acrobat as well!
After a while Grandma and Mama return to the living room, and settled in for a visit, and sent the sisters out to play before it got too late.
Deborah sat on the porch with Grandpa and Daddy, while her sister went in search of their brothers. This place was heaven on earth to her, after the noise of living in Dallas, and she couldn’t wait to go play in the lush green grass of the front yard!
As the summer night came upon them, they returned inside the house, and Grandma showed them where everyone would sleep. The girls were in the middle bedroom; Grandma turned back the covers and showed the girls where the chamber pot was, (they had no idea what they were supposed to do with it) and explained that they could use that if they needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, so as not to wake the house up.
Everyone was settled into their beds for the night. Deborah was too excited to sleep, or so she thought, but eventually drifted off to sleep better than she ever had!
As soon as the sun was up, Grandma was in to wake everyone to come for breakfast. She had the best oatmeal Ever, toast, orange juice, and milk for the kids, and bacon and eggs for the grown ups.
It didn’t take them long to finish breakfast, and her brothers and sister were off to explore the town some more, leaving Deborah behind.
She sat down on a chair in the living room, not knowing what else to do, and looked around. She discovered next to the chair a huge tub of Double Bubble gum, and a stack of TV Guide magazines that were up nearly to the arm of the chair.
After a while Grandpa came in, and offered her a piece of bubble gum from the tub next to his chair. It turns out that Grandma and Grandpa had stopped smoking, because that was why he had his larynx removed, and the bubble gum was to fend off the craving for a cigarette.
Without having her sister around to translate Grandpa’s hand motions, Deborah sat on the chair swinging her legs out of boredom.
She was just about to go outside to play, when Grandpa took her hand, and led her through the house, past the kitchen, and through the back door. They stepped out onto the grass, and he swept his hand outward, meaning that his yard stretched way back. There were neat rows of pretty trees, and with her hand in Grandpa’s, they walked the length of the yard, pausing at each tree, for him to pull off a pear here, and a peach there. You could tell that he was very proud of his fruit trees!
They passed the time that morning strolling the yard, all the while Grandpa would show her something new around every corner. At the back of the property he had bee hives, and showed her his beekeepers getup that would protect him from bee stings. Another path led to his pottery shop, where he had his kiln for firing the pottery, molds, and the plaster of Paris, he would mix to fill them. He was very creative, and talented in sculpture, so he would even make his own designs for original molds.
After they finished exploring the entire yard, Grandpa took her by the hand and led her through the backdoor, and into the kitchen. He looked around the corner, as if he was sneaking in, saw that the coast was clear, and opened the refrigerator. He put is finger to his lips, signaling to her to be quiet, and reached into the very back of the fridge, and pulled out a box of chocolate covered cherries. He hastily, pulled her down the hall, and into a small bedroom holding an overstuffed chair in the corner, with a floor lamp behind it, sat down, and with her on his lap, open the box.
Deborah wasn’t sure what they were, so she was in for a surprising treat! Grandpa gently handed her one of the chocolate mounds, and watched as she took her first bite. She slowly put it to her lips, not quite sure what to expect, and took a bite. The chocolate exploded, and opened up a gusher of sugary sweet syrup, that dribbled down her chin – she was instantly addicted!
After enjoying a few of the delectable creations, Grandpa closed the box, and they snuck back into the kitchen, making sure the coast was clear once again, and placed it back into its hiding place at the back of the fridge. It was their little secret.
The partners in crime walked through the house, past Grandma and Mama, and out the front door to sit on the porch swing, all the while Grandpa wearing a conspiratorial grin.
This is one of my most vivid memories of visiting my grandparents, and the last time I saw my grandfather alive.
I would later tell my mother about my memory of how we snuck the chocolates out of the kitchen, and was told that Grandma knew about it all along!
To this day, chocolate covered cherries are my special treat, and every time I enjoy one, I think of my grandpa.
I hope you enjoyed my first attempt at a short story. I would love some feedback, good or bad, let me have it!