‘I want a nectarine tree.’
I stifled a chuckle. My young grandson sighed longingly.
My son shrugged. ‘We bought nectarines and now he says he wants his own tree.’
Oliver was staying with his dad for the school holidays. His mother lived interstate. New husband. New baby. She’d moved on. My son still struggled.
Light bulb moment! I searched my cluttered kitchen window sill. Yes, two nectarine pits I’d saved but they languished on my long list of unrequited ideas.
Oliver’s eyes grew. Despite distance and time between visits, he still thinks of me as a wise sage.
‘Come on.’ We found a large pot and bag of potting mix. I tipped some into the pot; Oliver smoothed it with a trowel. I made indents with an old fork and Oliver dropped the pits in.
‘Abracadabra,’ he said, covering them with more soil. I added a silent prayer.
My son watched, keeping a physical distance and an essence of remoteness but I sensed curiosity.
Over the ensuing three weeks, they visited most days, Oliver rushing to check the pot each time, adding water from the can I kept beside it. ‘Maybe tomorrow,’ he said each day, undeterred.
I chided myself for raising his hopes. The pits must’ve been older than I remembered.
My son didn’t hide his disdain, shook his head and walked away.
I so wanted them to grow, not only for Oliver but for my son who needed… something.
On flight day they arrived for one last hug. Oliver held me tight. His father stood back, looking ten years older.
As I walked Oliver to the car, he suddenly stopped. ‘The nectarine trees!’ He sped to the backyard.
My son sighed. I sighed. Then… ‘They’re growing! They’re growing!’
With Olympic speed we joined Oliver. Two slender green shoots rose from the soil.
‘You won’t let Grandma forget to water them, will you Dad?’
I saw a faint sparkle in my son’s haunted eyes. His arm went around my shoulder.
‘Grandma won’t forget,’ he said. ‘But I’ll help. Perhaps we’ll plant more seeds. Maybe a whole orchard.’