The Rosebush


Matthew put his head down and walked faster. He tried not to see the white stucco house ahead. He knew he should stop. Mother would probably ask him, “Did you see Grandma today?” He sighed. He used to stop almost every day on his way home from school.

Then Grandpa died.

Matthew hadn’t known what to say to Grandma since Grandpa died. She was sad now. Sometimes when she talked about Grandpa, she cried.

Other people seemed to know what to say to Grandma. They put their arms around her and told her not to cry. But Matthew never knew what to say or do. He just stood there feeling uncomfortable.

Matthew walked up the sidewalk and knocked on the door. Grandma opened it. Her eyes were red. Matthew’s heart sank. He wished he had walked on past her house.

“Come in, dear.”

Matthew went in. He saw a box on the floor in the hall. Inside was a small rosebush, its roots wrapped with burlap and packing.

Every year Grandpa ordered a new rosebush for his garden. He must have ordered this one before he died.

“Take it home with you, Matthew. I can’t bear to look at it,” sniffed Grandma.

“No,” said Matthew. He gulped, surprised at himself, then plunged on. “Grandpa would have wanted you to plant it. He loved the garden, especially the rosebushes.” Matthew had spent many hours helping Grandpa in the garden.

Grandma was silent. Matthew thought she was angry with him. He wished he hadn’t said anything.

“You’re right, Matthew. Grandpa would have wanted that rosebush planted in the garden. I’ve never planted a rosebush before, though.”

“I’ll help you, Grandma,” Matthew offered. “I helped Grandpa lots of times.”

Grandma changed into old clothes while Matthew went to the garage to get a shovel.

Soon the two of them had a big hole dug in one corner of the garden. It was hard work. By the time the rosebush was in place, they were panting. The afternoon sun was almost behind the hills.

Grandma stood for a moment and looked at the rosebush. Her cheeks were red, and her eyes sparkled. “Is it all right, Matthew?”

“Yes, Grandma. It’s fine. It’s where Grandpa would have wanted it.”

Matthew put the shovel away. When he went inside, Grandma was in the kitchen. “I’d better go home, Grandma. Mom will be worried.”

“It’s all right. I called her. She knows where you are. Matthew, I want to show you something.” Grandma reached into a kitchen drawer and pulled out a box of seed packets. “These came in the mail last week. I was going to throw them away. I was just thinking … maybe I’ll try to plant them after all. Would you help me? I’ve never been much of a gardener.”

“I sure will, Grandma,” said Matthew. “I’ll stop by tomorrow after school.”

Matthew went out the door and down the sidewalk whistling a happy tune.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown