He had aged since she'd last seen him, the granddaughter thought, adjusting a pillow to support the newborn sleeping in her arms.
Her grandpa sat in his wheelchair, grey-haired and quiet. She was used to seeing him sweaty and grinning on a market day Saturday, pushing the trailer up to the back of a truck, unloading crates of tomatoes, tossing down watermelon, while she and her sisters prayed he'd crack one. He always gave it to them.
"Well, it's April," she said. "We should be out there starting market soon, huh?"
Her grandpa agreed, and gave the news of other market folks. The granddaughter smiled; she'd hated getting up in the early morning cold, packing up in the noon heat. But they'd had some good times, working, laughing and joking.
Somehow the conversation wandered to the history of the family hometown. "I remember before the arboretum, when all that was just fields," he said.
The granddaughter's interest was piqued as he painted a picture of the how the tiny town started, from Mr. Hess donating land for the Mennonite college, to seeing a willow tree planted in the town gardens before she was born.
"The one by the pond?" she asked. She'd fed the fish beside it when she was little, but never thought about how old it was. She had a feeling this was an important conversation, something to remember and treasure.
Her grandpa visited on for a little while. As he left, he cracked a joke. She made a smart reply and he laughed his husky laugh.He was headed back to the retirement home; she was headed back across the Atlantic.
Someday, she'll go back to that willow tree, just to remember and say goodbye.