There are so many stories that will spin from this blog post. Those stories are ones that need to be written while I’m alone, with a box of tissues, and no one to see my puffy red eyes for the next hour or so. You see, my in-laws are both gone. Gone in the physical sense, but never gone from our minds, and our hearts. The mother in law jokes were always wasted on me. I had the best, and will forever be grateful.
So what’s the deal with the raspberries? Well, let me tell you. My mother in law made my kids raspberry jam using their garden berries, from day one. My kids would literally turn their nose up at anything that wasn’t “Nana Ty’s” jam. When we would go visit we would always leave with a cooler full of freezer jam. It was gold. It wasn’t until later that I realized anything with that much sugar, was bound to be good.
I remember how nervous I was the first time I made it. There is a tremendous amount of pressure trying to duplicate something with such a high standard. I can still recall, I was standing in her kitchen, using all of her utensils, her raspberries, and the surreal feeling, that although she wasn’t there, she somehow was. My jam was a success. It was treasured like a 40 year old bottle of whisky. We were selling their house, and that would be the last year of jam with Papas berries.
My father in law was the hardest working man I’d ever met. Tough and hard exterior, but squishy on the inside. He loved to be outside in his garden. I wonder if he ever knew the impact that garden would have. Every time my kids see a raspberry, they think of them. The summers spent picking, the breakfasts together around the table, where the jam was aplenty, and the men would act like they couldn’t finish the bacon, but somehow always did.
When we sold their house, I became a hoarder. I thought that the more we had, the less they would feel gone. That last day as we emptied the remaining things into the Uhaul, my heart broke in a way it hadn’t before. I stood and watched my husband look out the slider into the woods knowing it would be the last time. The home that he grew up in, the one that held life long memories, was now a roof, walls and a floor. I can’t explain the pain of seeing the person you love most in the world hurt so deeply.
On the way out that day I decided that we were going to dig up a few raspberry bushes. There were rows and rows, no one would know if a few were missing. We planted them not knowing if they would survive or not. Chuck planted his in the front and I planted mine in the back. The dogs destroyed mine in a matter of days. Chucks however are producing berries. Not jam quantity, but that doesn’t matter. Whenever I see one of the kids walk over and pop one in their mouth, my heart heals a little.
Last week was the first week of school and Addison had a “Me Museum” project. It was to bring in 3 items that help to describe her and her interests. She brought a raspberry from papas bushes. I don’t know if she got the chance to talk about it or not, and honestly that doesn’t matter. She brought their legacy to 5th grade, and that right there, is what life is all about. How blessed have we been, to feel the loss of such a great love.