It’s silly really, the tears I shed over the lack of oranges yesterday, because I don’t particularly care for oranges. But my mother did. She was a Florida girl, born and bred, and she grew up relishing tropical fruit—grapefruits, oranges. She loved mangoes too. One of her final acts before she died was to send me a case of oranges for my birthday, and I wrote about how I ate every last one, even as they lost their Florida luster and began to gain a little Wisconsin fungus on the outside—a bitter sweet treat.
My Dad read that article, and every year since he had sent me a case of premium oranges from a Florida orchard for my birthday.
This year, however, there are no oranges. Dad died on August 16, Mom and Dad’s anniversary. I miss those oranges.
Thinking about those oranges and how they had become a tradition in the 7 years since Mom died, made me think of other traditions—particularly Mom and Dad’s anniversaries.
Dad worked graveyard shifts as a pressman at the Atlanta Newspapers most of his life. So usually on the eve of their anniversary, Mom would give him an anniversary card before he left for work, and he would return home at 3:00 in the morning with a box of Krispie Kreme donuts from THE store on Ponce de Leon Avenue in downtown Atlanta. (At that time, there wasn’t a Krispie Kreme on every street corner, so a box of these donuts was a real treat.)
My mom loved the donuts (almost as much as she loved oranges), and the next morning she would sit at the kitchen table sipping on a cup of black coffee, with a donut on a small plate next to her. I can still see her sitting down her coffee cup with one hand, and gingerly picking up the donut with two fingers—one on either side as she leaned forward to take a bite.
When Daddy passed away in his sleep on August 16 around 3:00 am, he wasn’t early for their anniversary. He was on time—keeping up with tradition.
I thought about ordering some oranges from that same orchard in Florida for myself. However, I think this year it’s okay not to have oranges.
Maybe next year I’ll order some mangoes.
© 2015 Michele Arduengo. All rights reserved.