Grace's Hope

February 15, 2011
Grace stood frozen on top of the hill, raising her coat caller as the cool wind kissed her skin. Standing on top of the hill allowed her to see what October had done to the graveyard. The colorful autumn leaves which had began to fall in the beginning of the month, covered the pathways and some graves, stuck there temporally by the glue of water and mud. Gazing at the depressing sight of dead leaves on top of the gravestones reminded Grace more of why she was here. With a deep sigh the she began to descend down the hill and into the graveyard. As she walked along the covered path leaves would break under her feet or sink down into the earth, leaving its mark of mud upon the rubber of her boots. As she came to a stop so did the wind and other noises, making her surroundings of eeriness with a thick cloud of sorrow more present. She slowly bent down and placed the bundle of lavender in front of the headstone.
“Lilly Oliver
Loving wife and mother.
1956 – 1992”
With one glance memories came flooding back along with several tears.

In the mornings of her childhood, Grace Oliver would awake by the smell of her mothers cooking entering her nose. Grace would throw her flannel covers and poorly sewn quilt she’d gotten from her grandmother and run downstairs to the kitchen. She would always side around the corner leading to the stairs because of her speed on the slippery, cool floor, which would land her with some injuries on several occasions. But Gracie was always determined to be the first one at the kitchen table to welcome her mother’s cooking. Her mother would set a china plate with breakfast placed on it in front of Grace, kiss the top of her head, and mutter a good morning. In return Grace would flash a smile before diving into the meal. Grace’s father would come into the kitchen a few minutes later. He would walk over to his wife and give her a peck on her right cheek before sitting down to breakfast.
“Hi kiddo, how are you this morning?” her father always asked her.
Grace would finish crewing her food and swallow before answering with a “good”. Her father would smile and then begin to eat.

Breakfast always seemed to go by so fast in the Oliver household. Probably because of her father having to leave for work early. He worked at an orchard a couple miles away, picking fruit. It usually took him about an hour to get there. True, the drive was long but the wages were good and so were the benefits. After finishing his meal Grace’s father would stand up and be handed a paper bag from her mother. He would give her one more kiss on her right cheek, and bid them both a good bye before departing.
“Mama, why does daddy always kiss you on your right cheek?” Gracie would ask.
“Because your daddy always tells me that I was the right girl for him,” her mother answered.
Grace would smile and then help clean up the mess left from breakfast.

Life was good, to someone else it could have been better, but to Grace it was perfect. But sometimes life doesn’t go as we plan. One sunny June day Grace was at home with her grandmother waiting for her parents to get back from a doctors appointment. They had been outside, Grace jumping rope while her grandmother sat in a rocking chair knitting, since the house was too warm. When her father’s car pulled up, Grace dropped her jump rope and ran to her mother who was just getting out of the car. She went to jump into her mother’s arms but her father stopped her.
“Grace, mommy is a little tired right now,” her father said and then ushered his wife into the house.
Grace stood there looking towards them, managed to catch the sad expression on their faces. That night Grace’s mother called her into her bedroom, wished to speak with her about something important. Grace sat on her mother’s bed, wondering if it had to do with how they were acting when they arrived home.
“Honey, mommy is very sick,” her mother said.
“Let me get you some chicken noodle soup, that always makes me feel better,” Grace said.
“No, mommy’s so sick that chicken noodle soup won’t help.”
Grace looked at her mother confused because to her chicken noodle soup fixes everything.
“Honey, I have breast cancer,” her mother said.
Grace had heard of cancer before from the newspaper clippings saying that some person had died because of it. Grace wrapped her small arms around her mother’s torso and began to cry into her nightgown.

Since Grace’s mother had been diagnosed she had spent a lot of time outside planting lavender flowers. Grace’s father always joked that her mother’s name should be Lavender instead of Lilly, trying to lighten the situation. Her grandmother would say that they have healing qualities, but her mother would say that she just enjoys the smell. When her mother was bedridden Grace would go down to the lavender garden and chose a flower to give to her mother, hoping that the flower’s “healing qualities” would make her mother stronger. Her mother would always smile at the attempt.
“You’re going to get better Mama,” Grace said one chilling October evening when giving her the lavender flower.
Grace’s mother smiled and then sat her down on the bed.
“Grace, I have lived my life. I don’t want you to be sad when I’m gone. I just want you to remember that I will always be with you. All you have to do is hope,” her mother said before falling asleep.
The next morning Grace woke up to find that her mother had died in her sleep. She cried as her father held her.

Several more tears had fallen from Grace’s check as she stared at her mother’s grave. It had been years, and people said that the grieving gets better with time, but it still hurt. Footsteps echoed behind her and soon a small hand slipped into hers. Grace looked down and smiled at the little child, face wet from crying.
“Come on mommy, we have to get to the store,” said Grace’s daughter.
Grace smiled, picked the child up in her arms, and began to walk back to the car. After her mother had died, Grace was giving her recipe box. At the age of twenty three Grace opened up a bakery Lavender Lilly, named in her mother’s honor. Every October, Grace hopes to raise awareness of the disease that claimed her mother’s life. And every October Grace swears she smells the lavender flowers that her mother used to plant.

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