This column first appeared in March of 2013. It is updated today in honor of Ethel “Granny” Ellis whom we had to place in her final earthy resting place on Monday. She was a wonderful surrogate grandmother to the first two of my five kids before we had to move away. Sadly, I updated the * paragraph for her passing.
Yesterday I was out in the rain with my oldest and first born son fertilizing the orchard……pecans, chestnuts, pears, apples, persimmons, and grapes. But what really caught my attention were the two new peach trees we planted last fall; they were absolutely full of beautiful pink blossoms and that triggered a flood of memories from the summer of 1980.
That was the year that David, first of four sons, was born. He was the first grandson born to the family and we had a house full of Yankee company from both sides of the family in Perry to help us celebrate. We were living next door to “Pee Paw” and Granny Ellis at the time on Cater Circle.
I don’t know if it was a record peach harvest for all of Georgia that year or not, but it was a record harvest at the Milby household. Pee Paw and Granny saw to that. It was the middle of June and many of the local peach orchards had already been commercially harvested but the very best tree-ripened peaches lay on the ground too ripe to pack and ship, but just right for those who knew the right people to ask and had the will and the gnat spray to go get them.
We had all three with our house full of company. That little house was so full of grandmothers and neighbors peeling and preparing peaches that it created a folklore of stories that hasn’t quit to this day. We had every conceivable concoction of peach recipe you can imagine: peach pie, peach cobbler, sliced peaches on cereal, peaches ‘n pecans, and best of all, home-made peach ice cream from granny’s churn. It was truly a bountiful harvest whose memory is still growing today.
If my new blossoming peach trees grow half as well as those memories we’ll have a bumper crop every year.
(*) But here’s the real lesson in this orchard tale. You have to pick and pack away the memories while you’re picking the fruit. And here’s why. Four out of the four grandparents and both of the neighbors, Pee Paw and Granny, have already departed from the orchard for good. They’ve picked and packed their last peach.
We all have seasons of life. When we were young we hardly ever thought about it. It seemed like life would just go on forever. But now that we’re seniors, the reality of the final harvest of life, when we go to meet the maker of it all, seems to stare at us from the not-too-distant future.
And so my challenge to you today is to pick and pack and enjoy as many memories about this treasured season of life as you can while you’re enjoying the fresh peaches this year. They’ll grow on you better than the peaches themselves if you let ‘em.
And while you’re at it, I hope you get to taste some home-made peach ice cream as good as granny’s!
Thanks for reading All About Seniors, …..See you next week!
Bill Milby, CSA, is a Certified Senior Advisor and a Director of Visiting Angels® of Macon, a non-medical, living assistance service for seniors. If you have questions or comments about this column you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Photo credit: pro flowers