“His son’s been gone for a mighty long time.”
Gail’s grandma paused and shook her wispy head of thin gray hair. “But, John always say he’ll never stop serving folks at his establishment. He should have a couple of cans of that sweet pineapple sitting on the shelf for you to grab hold of.”
The old woman fumbled with the clasp of her well-worn pocketbook.Finally it gave way and opened to wads of aged papers hanging out of loose compartments in the out dated purse. She busily searched every pocket of her prized possession that never left her side, until she settled on what she was looking for. With a triumphed sound she pulled the yellowed paper from her purse with her bony fingers, giving it to her astonished granddaughter.
“You should be able to follow the road to his place. It’s quite a ways inland, but the landmarks your daddy circled in red should be able to lead you there and back… well before midday.’’
Mother and daughter crept out of earshot of their animated elder and shared a moment of muted amazement at what they’d just witnessed in the kitchen. Gail’s’ grandmother was reliving another time and place. Those early days when she was still young and girlish and nearing middle age. She loved family gatherings, especially holidays when she rose bright and early to bake her delicious pineapple upside down cake for the family’s special Christmases.
But, this day and time was quite different and there was no longer cans of pineapple lining a long ago demolished John & Son’s storefront grocer. Her grandmother was 88 and had bouts of dementia. Gail and her mom always picked her up from the nursing home on Christmas.
The pineapple upside down cake was no longer a family tradition in their home since her dad death 5 years ago from an automobile accident that was caused by a drunk driver. But, Gail’s grandmother, her father’s mother never stopped thinking he would be right here at Christmas, enjoying her special treat.
It was Christmas Day and Gail and her mother couldn’t bear to tell the old woman that there would be no pineapple cake in their house because she and her mother decided to bury that special memory along with her father.
Gail’s mom placed a finger to her lips, “Wait here,” she whispered to her daughter and headed toward her bedroom. She returned with a piece of paper.
“Here’s the address to your Aunt Margie’s new house. I’ve already called ahead. Your dad loved pineapple upside down cake and your grandmother always made it as a special gift for him on Christmas. Your grandmother and aunt Margie spoiled your daddy to no end.”
It finally dawned on Gail why her aunt always had leftover pineapple cake on hand whenever they visited after the Christmas holidays. Gail was giving her mom an extra loving daughter hug and fighting off happy tears, when they heard a joyful voice coming from the kitchen.
“Hurry along now dear and be careful where you step daughter. the roads can be treacherous at this time of year!”
“Don’t worry” Gail responded, with a twinkle. “I have a list and a map. What could possibly go wrong?”
I hope you enjoyed reading my short Christmas tale. I’m editing some of my short story rejections and will post a few of them from time to time. Feel free to share your insights or some of your own shorts.