The Lemon Tree

By Rebecca Thorsen / July 13, 2020

In the early years of our military life, Happy Hubby was sent back to our home state of Washington for some training. For us it meant a road trip.

When you live in North Carolina, the best choice for winter travel west is a southern route. Down the east coast via the 95, through South Carolina, Georgia, and a right at Jacksonville, Florida, across the southern US, and then another right turn at San Diego, then north on the I-5 to Washington State. You may think I am being a little harsh with the telling of these directions, but for a military family we have a finite amount of time to get from one point to another. However, I will say the trip gets a little bit spicy when we turned and started heading west. You see we had a toddler in the car with us, and we came to find out she was a sick, cranky, and not easily comforted toddler. To make an already bad situation worse, we would be driving into the afternoon sun for the next several days, which REALLY irritated her. As they say, our life sucked!

By the time we got through Texas, we realized that Happy Hubby was also sick, complements of our daughter AKA the plague monster.

That’s the reason I only let plague monsters hug me around the legs. It’s with hope that when I wash my pants, I will kill off the plague they are sharing with me.

One of our stops was to see a dear friend who is our daughter’s Godmother. As luck would have it she and her husband were also in the military and Happy Hubby was able to be seen at ‘sick call’ on the base. So, with antibiotics in hand we were off the next day. You ask why the plague monster wasn’t seen also? Well because they couldn’t fit her in, and she wasn’t on active duty; she was too young, you see. She would need a few more years under her belt to join up.

This all changed when we pulled into Scottsdale, Arizona, where Happy Hubby’s Grandparents wintered. Within an hour of arriving his Grandmother had called his Grandfather’s heart doctor for a recommendation for a pediatrician. By that afternoon we had seen the doctor and our pink-faced baby was on her own round of antibiotics and in the arms of a she-lion of a Great Grandmother. All was good!

That evening for dessert we had lemon meringue pie made with lemons from their lemon trees. You see, Happy Hubby’s Grandmother loved him very much and he loved his Grandmother and her lemon meringue pie. I wasn’t sure things could get any better, but they did.

The next morning my baby girl became her Great Grandpa’s shadow, and this sweet Irishman didn’t seem to mind at all. They both walked about the same speed with similar stumbles, always managing to get to where they were heading. My eyes prickled with tears as I realized this was two sides of this wonderful thing we call Life.

Great Grandpa’s day had a schedule to it, and the trip to the mailbox was part of it. However, his sweet shadow didn’t realize she wasn’t part of this trip, until the door was closed on her. But before the tears could make tracks down her sick pinked checks, Great Grandma had swooped in and had her distracted with a tasty shortbread cookie. There was such love in the arms of that matriarch!

When you have children, sounds become a way of measuring something. For instance, chattering can be one of two things: Either they are talking to themselves as they are plotting their mischief, or they are just self-soothing. Well, that day we experienced one of those scary sounds… silence. I was up and on the hunt for the location of that lack of noise. The Arizona bungalow wasn’t very big, so it wasn’t long before I found were the lack of sound was coming from.

Out in their citrus-wrapped patio was a sight that to this day brings tears to my eyes.

Because Great Grandpa got cold easily, he would often take his afternoon naps out on the patio chaise lounge. That’s where I found her, wrapped up in his arms, both of them sound asleep. It was at that very moment I realized these two souls had sealed their bond. They may not have seen each other every day, but she was his first great grandchild and their relationship would be a special one. So out there in that sun-warmed, tart lemon  enriched patio, I left them to their dream laced naps.

The next day we needed to continue our journey west and north. The trip was sealed with hugs and a promise of a box of filled with grapefruits, oranges, and most of all lemons. Big, juicy, sun-ripened lemons from the patio garden of two of the most generous people I have ever known.

As you may have guessed, they’re no longer with us. However, I visit them at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle whenever I’m in Washington. They lay side by side just like they lived their lives. May their memories be for a blessing.

These lemons have plays center stage to many of our favorite recipes:


About the author

Rebecca Thorsen