A Bittersweet Week
On the Thursday before Easter, after writing and revising and querying seven novels, I accepted my first offer of publication. What a perfect Easter gift for me! The knowledge that my book, Wonder Light—about a heartbroken little girl who finds not only a baby unicorn in need of her care, but a new life she never imagined she’d have—will soon be in the hands of young readers.
But the next morning, just as I arrived at the ball field for my kids’ homeschool baseball group, I got a phone call from my Dad. My maternal grandmother, Dorothy had passed away. Just a few words, and my joy turned to sadness. I watched my kids running around the field in the sunshine, and didn’t know what to feel. Grandma Dorothy had been doing so well. Just days before, she’d had a rare visit with all five of her children, who’d flown from all over the country to San Diego to see her. One last trip “up fools’ hill” for Grandma and her kids, who have a special knack for laughing themselves silly together.
That Good Friday evening I drew unicorns on Easter eggs with my kids, and thought of Grandma Dorothy, living out the truth of Easter. Victorious over death.
While Grandma Dorothy may be tending the gardens of paradise, her Oakdale, California garden is also very much alive in my memory. To me, as a little girl, Grandma’s yard was a magical world, every available inch overflowing with flowers, vines, and fruit.
In the in front yard, a path was flanked with dahlias the size of dinner plates, and the front porch shaded with a tangle of branches bursting with ripening grapefruit.
In the back, strawberry beds were planted all along the fence, and I played under the plum tree and the grape arbor and plucked berries from the raspberry patch. But my favorite treat was Grandma Dorothy’s sweet, white-golden treasure trove of nectarines.
Grandma Dorothy would come to visit my family while we were stationed at Fort Ord, California, bringing brown paper bags full of her garden’s bounty. Sometimes pecans or persimmons. Those were good, but always, as I lugged bags from her car and into our kitchen, I sniffed that brown paper and hoped to detect the muffled sugariness of white nectarines.
Those white nectarines inspired a poem, which I shared on this blog last year. I posted “White Nectarines,” written so many years ago, in part because I’d been thinking about how short life was. Too short not to share even a little poem about nectarines with the world.
So here it is, this time as a tribute to Grandma Dorothy, whose garden fed my heart and my imagination, and whose passing into new life reminded me of the real gift of Easter.
by Robyn Russell
Full and round with
Ripeness and paper;
My fingers find them
My mouth knows
Rumple, crinkle, bite
Am full and round with
Many more to
Posted on April 16, 2012, in Writing and tagged book deal, easter, Good Friday, grandmas, middle grade, poems for kids, publishing, R.R. Russell, unicorn book, unicorns, Unicorns of the Mist, white nectarines, Wonder Light. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.