Ella’s little grandson had planted a surprise for her…
The bright splash of colour made Ella catch her breath.
From her window, she had noticed the first real colour of spring. Or maybe it was still late winter?
“Doesn’t matter, you old fool,” she chastised herself. “Makes no difference if it’s one or the other – the crocuses are here…”
So saying, she turned and made her way carefully to the kitchen.
There, she sat to pull on her reliable gardening boots, found her dear old fleece and gloves and dressed herself for the outdoors.
Take it easy – don’t rush, the voice of reason cautioned and she smiled.
It had been a long winter, stuck indoors after the hip operation.
It had taken all her determination to convince the family that she really was strong enough to be back in her own home after a recuperation on a bed in her daughter’s front room.
There had then followed weeks of twice daily phone calls to check her progress.
“They’re checking I’m doing as I’m told,” she explained to her friend Mo.
“They mean well,” Mo pointed out. “They know how stubborn you are!”
Theirs was a long friendship and such truthfulness was never offensive.
Mo’s regular visits were a welcome break in the gloomy winter days.
Ella grinned ruefully. “You’re right, but I’ll only ever admit it to you and the cat!”
Mo poured tea and commented how well Ella had behaved by not going out into her beloved garden.
It had been such a trial, but now, she was motivated by the changing seasons. Spring was on its way – there were the crocuses to prove it! She had to see them for herself. Close up.
Outside, a weak sun was climbing into the pale blue sky.
Ella stood on the patio, quite still, taking it all in. Breathing in the fine air, letting it lift her soul…
Ella turned to her grandson. “Hello, my lovely. Come and give me a hug!”
Jack raced over, ready to pounce – and stopped at the last minute, remembering his mother’s warning.
“You can hug me, you know,” Ella smiled. “I won’t break…”
“There you are, Mum!” Vicky made her way round the corner of the house, always some distance behind her six year old. “What are you doing out here?”
Ella sat on the garden bench and Jack climbed up beside her, snuggling against her fleece.
“Enjoying some sunshine at last, getting to know my garden again!”
She waited for an admonishment, but Vicky knew better than to deprive her mother of her precious garden on such a glorious morning.
“We thought we’d surprise you,” she said. “Jon’s called at the village store for some breakfast goodies…”
“I’m having chocolate bread,” Jack told her, patting his tummy.
“Good choice!” Ella felt her day growing better by the second.
Shaking her head and laughing, Vicky went inside to make coffee.
For a time, Ella and Jack remained on the bench, watching a blackbird at the edge of the lawn.
“Looking for nest building stuff,” she told her grandson, marvelling that he could keep still for a while.
Then, “Daddy!” Jack wriggled free and launched himself at his father. “Granny says to come and see the colours…”
“Morning!” Jon raised a quizzical eyebrow and Ella explained about the crocuses she had seen from the lounge window.
“Lead on, then, Jack,” he said, allowing his little son to drag him across the grass.
Beyond the lawn, where the apple trees were budding by the old shed, they found clump after clump of crocuses, pushing joyfully into the sunshine. Orange and purple and white to herald the spring.
“Granny – look!”
Ella and Jon moved to where Jack was jiggling on the spot.
“Oh!” she exclaimed in delight.
There, among the hardy shrubs, a heart-shape of crocus flowers nestled against the leafless stems.
“I did that,” Jack said. “For you, Granny.”
Ella looked at Jon, frowning as he tried to work it out.
“I was helping Daddy,” he explained. “And I found them in your shed – bulbs, Daddy said.”
Finally, Jon recalled the autumn afternoon, tidying his mother-in-law’s garden, and entertaining his inquisitive son.
Jack had asked him, “Daddy – I found these. What are they?”
Jon explained that they were crocus bulbs – and not for eating!
“You plant them in the ground and in the spring, they grow into pretty flowers.”
“When Granny gets her hip better?”
“That’s right. She’ll love them.”
Now, Jon ruffled his son’s hair.
“So you did plant them after all?”
“Course I did! Specially for Granny. And I did you a heart shape, too – d’you like it, Granny?”
Ella put a hand on his shoulder.
“I love it,” she said, watching him grin happily. “Makes me feel better than ever.”
Our My Weekly Favourites series of feel-good fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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