My Great Aunt & the Pumpkin Patch

This day, she drives her well taken care of Lexus.  It is gold.  She is ninety-five.  She draws close with her warm smile and gives me a hug.  “It’s been a year since I’ve seen you.”  I say, “Yes, it’s been too long.”  One, because it’s true and two, because I am mildly surprised it has been so long.

She asks me which walking cane she should use.  I survey the rough, uneven ground and point to the more practical of two sticks.  She puts away her church cane with it’s slight diamond patterns reflecting what little sunlight breaks through the cloud cover.

It is a crisp, October morning.  I’d hoped for warmer weather.  We meet my dad, hug him as well.  He and I smile and match pace with her as we follow a herd of children to the petting zoo portion of this pumpkin patch.

A flock of white geese whisper of Christmas’ fast approaching.  A lone, mottled grey duck thinks he is part of their number.  She admires the geese.  We look at the ponies, they are fat and well taken care of. Five dollars for a Pony Ride, a sign says.

Our days are long past that, I am a little less than half her age and remember her younger.  She, one of five siblings.  Four girls and a boy.  She and the boy are all that are left.  She recalls stories of her life growing up on a farm, not far from here.  The smells, the red dirt, the animals overlapping the present and the past.

We take a hay ride, most of our group anyway.  Our older kids gladly offer to let some take their place because there isn’t enough room.  I love them for this.  We sit on a trailer, pulled by a tractor.  The leaves are beginning to change, not in full splendor yet.

After the ride, we walk to the fire pits to warm ourselves.  She and my dad roast some marshmallows, the smoke chases me away.  I flee to a neighboring corn maze, with two friends my age and three of our daughters.  We all become nine again as we laugh and follow our girls.

Hesitantly at first, they lead.  Single file down the trails; we find ourselves in the center where a railed bridge sits proud.  We mount the stairs, pose over the rail, daughters take our pictures.  You can see back to the small bonfires from this height.  You can see past the makeshift eating pavilions; carports laced with antique doors.  You can see the petting zoo.  We can see our teens taking photos posing in a Cinderella carriage; dreaming.

We climb back down and the girls lead us once again.  We come out the entrance.  That’s okay life is circular like that sometimes.  As we prepare to leave, we are allowed to each take a pumpkin. Slowly, we pick through the piles until we each finally find just the right one.

I walk with my aunt back to her car.  She pulls out an ad to show me; it’s for Daisy perfume.  A small glass container with three white Daisies on the lid.  She smiles and says she wants just the bottle.  She reminds me her moms birthday is coming up soon, that her sister, Daisie’s birthday has just passed.  She was my grandmother.

We smile warmly at each other.  I open the ad and smell the light floral scent, she tells me to keep it.  The whiff of perfume is an elusive ghost, just like our memories.  We hug each other and remember.  Eyes stinging from the cold.

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