I hiked up the rocky trail that led to the place I knew so well. Tiny drops of rain fell from the dark sky. A cool mist lingered over the ground. The boughs of the elms that had grown over the path brushed my face. Normally, we would have cut the branches back, but now that my grandpa was gone it seemed as though nothing should be disturbed; as if by changing the things around him we would be doing something wrong.
Nothing had really been the same again since my grandpa had died. A lot of my friends wondered why my grandpa was so important to me. But they had dads, so for them it was different. My dad had died of cancer when I was two. I don’t remember him. After that, my grandpa had been like a father to me. We did everything together. We went swimming, fishing and to Saturday night movies. But the place I liked best was where I was going now.
Our farm was the most awesome place ever. We called it “our” farm because, as he said, it was my farm too. It wasn’t a real farm at all. We had farmers for neighbors, but our farm was a piece of wilderness. It was acres of bush and forests, with our cabin, gardens and yard at one edge. We had built trails all over the place, but since the only way we could possibly maintain them was to walk them regularly, and since my grandpa wasn’t here anymore, that didn’t happen.
This was my first time up here for a while. My mom had been bugging me for months to come up. I was afraid it would evoke painful memories. Memories of hot summer days when we would cool off in the swimming hole, laughing and talking. Memories of planting my grandpa’s massive flower gardens. He had bed after bed of hollyhocks, peonies, delphiniums, lilies, phlox, hostas, lilacs, rhododendrons, asters, daisies and probably every type of flower that would grow in our climate. Memories of hiking our trails, cooking in our kitchen and most of all, just being with him. But finally I decided to go.
I was half right. The whole place screamed “Grandpa!” at me. Every step along that trail I took I remembered something else about him. I was fondly thinking of him, and then I remembered that he would never be able to enjoy the pastimes that he loved so much again. These bittersweet thoughts filled my head as I crunched my way past the cranberry bushes, the pond and finally the big hill we used to ski down.
It was a very steep climb up to the top. As I was reaching the top I realized the rain had stopped. I turned the bend in the path and a beautiful sight met my eyes. A single magnolia tree grew in the clearing, ahead. It was now in full flower, its lovely pink blossoms beautifully unfurled and shining in the ray of light that had pierced the darkness. The storm clouds of sorrow were rolled away and a beautiful rainbow was let down from the heavens. It shined brightly and I could feel my grandpa telling me everything would be all right. And now, I was quite sure he was right.