the Gardener

It was a clear October day. A perfect seventy-eight degrees in sunny Destin, Florida. We were just getting out of the pool and drying off when up walks the gardener. We remember her from our past visits because she LOVES to talk.

“What a sweet baby. How old is he?” she asks.

“Thank you. He’s four months.”

“Well he’s certainly a cutie. I’m about to be a first time grandmother.”

“Oh, how exciting. Congratulations.”

Now the conversation would’ve been fine if it had ended here, but it didn’t.

“Yeah, my son got his girlfriend pregnant.”

I can feel the tension beginning to mount and somehow I know it’s about to go south. I hear the back door and look over to see Brantley escaping into the house. He has left me holding the bag…and his son.

She reaches down and grabs Luke hand. All I can think about while she plays with him is that she hasn’t washed her hands. She begins talking to him sweetly. It’s baby talk and she leans over into his face. He likes her and smiles back. Ok, maybe I was wrong. This isn’t bad at all.

“Peek a boo. Peek a boo!” she says.

Her baby talk continues. “The girl my son got pregnant was a stripper. She tried to have an abortion and we said, no you can’t. No you can’t. Peek a boo.”

I jump up. “Nap time! It’s way past his nap time and I’ve got to get him in bed before he gets fussy. Good luck with the grandbaby. Ok, bye.”

I walk inside and see Brantley sitting at the kitchen table. He’s having a leisurely popsicle and watching tv. “She’s weird” he says.

“How would you know? You left us to the wolves out there. I want you to know that she was talking to your son about abortions.”

“Was she for or against?”

“That’s not the point, Brantley. One day, years from now, Luke will be in therapy recounting a repressed memory of a woman with dirty hands talking about strippers and abortions.”

Then through his blue popsicle stained teeth, Brantley imparts me with wisdom. “He’s going to find out about it at some point, Lori. We can’t keep him in a bubble. And we’ll probably ALL be in therapy one day.”

“That is perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!…except for the part about therapy. I think I need some right now!”