Spotlight: Glads by Margaret Smith-Braniff


In response to Writing Prompt Forty-ThreeWe watered our horses in meadows beneath wildflower covered hillsides.

Miriam grabbed up Mirry, her five-year old granddaughter, and headed across the graveyard, filled with old stands of cottonwoods and clumps of lilac bushes—a few having been planted in right angles to the plots.

“It’s like a park, Mirry, this is where people come for reunions. Ooh, baby, I got to set you down. You’re growin’ like a weed.”

“You mean like the one we had at your house, Grammy?” The child trotted alongside her grandmother’s long stride. Her grandmother’s grip kept her from falling over tufts of uneven mounds. Gravesites were marked with various sizes and qualities of stone or metal markers, but the ground, though covered in grass, was not entirely smooth.

“Weeds? Oh, reunions. Well, kind of like that, honey. But sometimes we have reunions with friends and family members that we can’t really see.”

“Like ghosts?” The little girl’s steps faltered.

“Not exactly—at least not like you read in Goose Bumps. More like—well, you know when we sit on the sofa in the living room and look at the scrapbook of you and Melanie?”

“Yeah.”  The two of them continued toward the top of a hill, now walking on a graveled track for cars.

“Well, you know how I tell stories about you and Mel—like when you were so little you don’t remember too well.”

“I remember things.”

“Yes, I know you do, dear, but there are things you can’t remember because you weren’t there—Melanie was born before you but now you tell other people stories about her that you know because of the scrapbook.”

“You mean like when she won first prize for dressing Piggy up in a wool dress at that fair place?”

“Just like that.”

“So what’s that got to do with ghosts?”

“See that white marker over there?”

“Where? Oh, that one with the carving on it?”

“That one. It is where my Aunt Julie was buried. I come out here sometimes to have a chat with her about my flowerbeds. She used to have the most beautiful garden in town—there were purple glads and gorgeous fat red roses—“
“What’s a glad? I like that one, I bet. It sounds happy.”

“It is but it’s kind of stately—“

“What’s stately?”

“Tall and proud, like, I don’t know like these trees or—Mr. Meyer, you know that man that sits in church with us.”

“I know him.  He sneaks me candy sometimes when Mommy isn’t looking.”  Miriam smiled and nodded.

“He used to do that for your mommy too.”

“Anyway, a glad—gladiola—has long leaves and a stalk. Sometime this summer I’ll bring you out to see some. I planted some bulbs by Aunt Julie’s grave. They will start blooming this summer.”

“So why do you come and talk to Aunt Julie about flowers if she isn’t here anymore?

“That is an excellent question. It’s because she is ‘kind of’ here. She has a spirit—it left her body here, but she’s not really dead. I also come out here to talk to my own daddy. He and Momma are up here where we are going. They got to pick where they wanted to be buried a long time before lots of folks here did.”

“How come?”

“Well, because our family got here early. They wanted to be in a place that would remind all of us of how things started for all of us.”

“What do you mean?”

“Come up here and I’ll show you.” The long-legged grandmother in blue jeans and sweatshirt held tight to the hand of the five-year-old. She looked down. The child’s hair fluffed in the wind, her smooth cheeks rouged with the brisk air and exercise; her bright eyes scanned the scene below—a tan slope that dropped to a creek and then rose on the opposite side to a craggy red bluff. For a small person, Mirry didn’t seem bothered by the emptiness. Her grammy had something to show her and she would see it. Miriam smiled at the expectation. Someday Mirry might come visit her here—she hoped so.

“Look down toward this pasture, Mirry. I want you to think about the summer. Can you remember how green it was last summer?"

“Yes.”

“Well, once this pasture was green and full of wildflowers. Your great-grammy came here with your great-granddaddy. It was while their horses were watering in that creek down there that he asked her to get married to him. And she said yes.”

“So—were you there?” The little girl looked at her grandmother.
“Well—kind of yes. ‘Cause I’m here. Talking about them with you. So now you are there too.”

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Buffalo, Wyoming 82834