From Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul

Pink Jelly Glasses

In this world of change, nothing which comes stays, and nothing which goes is lost.

Anne Sophie Swetchine

Little green apples blushed with pink hung from the leafy branches and waved in the breeze of a branch that spread over the front walkway of my grandpa’s house. Scattered along the ground, decaying apples covered the walkway in a slimy mush. I had to clean the path to the house every day so that no one would slip and fall down. My dad would have done it, but he was so busy taking care of things now that Grandpa was gone that he said he didn’t even have time to cry.

People came by the house in a steady stream, bringing coffeecake and hot casseroles. Cards came with the flowers, and kind words spilled from every direction. Everyone commented about the mess and suggested that the branch be trimmed, too.

The undertaker reported that an apple hit him on the head on his way down the path. Grandpa would have thought that was funny. He would have stroked my hair and called me his bikku piika, his little helper girl. I loved when Grandpa spoke in the old language to me. I wondered who would speak those special words to me now that Grandpa was gone.

One afternoon, while the adults were making plans for Grandpa’s funeral, the neighbors came to visit and brought their granddaughter, Anna. She sat at the kitchen table, wriggling her fingers together while looking clearly bored. Finally, in a hushed voice, she asked if she could go outside with me to pick some apples. The thought of fresh air seemed tempting, so I agreed. We set out with two large sacks for collecting apples.

After a few minutes of picking, I realized that most of the apples were out of our reach. Then I spied the rake propped up next to the house, probably just where Grandpa had left it. He would have raked the yard after he mowed it with the old push mower. He never got to finish.

Oh, Grandpa, I miss you so much. I miss crawling up in your lap and hearing your funny stories. I miss your apple jelly. I miss hearing you laugh, I told him in my thoughts.

I picked up the rake, put it up into the tree, shook hard, and pulled at the branches. I wanted to scream out, “It isn’t fair, and I want my grandpa-pa back!” I held back the tears and my words as I watched the ripe fruit fall.

I glanced around to see little Anna dodging falling apples. A few times, she got beaned in the head with one. That made me laugh, and it felt good after so much sadness. Was I supposed to laugh during a time like this? I wasn’t sure.

We collected all the fallen apples, and then it was time for Anna to leave. I traded addresses with her so we could write to each other and stay friends.

The next day, Auntie Aila came over to the house and showed me how to make apple jelly. While we were pouring the jelly into the crystal-patterned jars, the phone rang. It was my best friend, Lisa. She wanted to see how I was holding up and to offer a best friend’s advice on losing a grandpa. She said what I was feeling was normal, and that the tears would come. She also said that laughter was good. The best thing she said was that when her grandpa died, she took a pair of his glasses home with her. Then, whenever she missed him or was confused about something, she would put them on and try to see things through her grandpa’s eyes.

After the funeral and the details were wrapped up, I realized that Grandpa was never coming back, and I finally cried. I looked over and noticed that Dad had begun to cry, too. I snuggled close in his arms as I told him what Lisa had said about it being okay to cry about losing Grandpa. I also told him about picking apples with my new friend, Anna. He said I was lucky to have two good friends—a new friend to help me laugh, and an old friend to remind me that it is okay to have all of these feelings.

Dad dried off both our tears with his sleeve and stroked his hand over my hair.

“Bikku piika,” Dad said with a kind smile. “Thank you for reminding me that it’s okay to cry.”

When I packed my bags to return home, I added two jars of pink apple jelly to remind me of Grandpa. But next to the jelly jars was something that would last my lifetime and keep my grandpa in my heart forever— a pair of Grandpa’s glasses.

Jacqueline J. Michels

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