This lovely little story and loss and moving on from loss, set in an apple orchard, popped up in my facebook feed this morning. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. It comes from River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative .
The day my father died, my husband and I drove in the bright, tilted light of autumn, past farms, pastures, and ponds, finally arriving at the orchard. We parked the car, picked up two half-bushel bags to fill, and walked up the trail of powdered dust, fine as confectioner’s sugar, that led to the grove. That’s when I noticed them—my father’s shoes on my husband’s feet.
They’re old man’s shoes, beige like the walls in retirement homes that take in widows and widowers when they have nowhere else to go. That’s where my father moved after my mother died, where by each identical door, on a little ledge, the resident displayed plastic flowers and stuffed animals.
I was disconcerted when Richard wore his shoes. I didn’t want him to put his feet where my father’s feet had rested. On the trail up the hill, Richard was shuffling like my father did the last time I saw him.
When we entered the lane of Mutsu trees under clear blue skies with fast moving clouds and the grass growing tall between the trees, the light went very pale. I no longer knew exactly who I was: was I a daughter following the footsteps of my father or a wife following my husband? Was my father dead or resurrected in my husband? Richard moved down the lane and disappeared inside the canopy of a tree. I could only see his shoes, my father’s shoes, glistening in the wet grass.