The wooden create of plump peaches from Mary’s orchard sat on the kitchen bench.

“…A gift for Grandma and Grandpa, not you kids”, Mary warned as she drove off in her rickety old farm ute. Grandma sighed and gathered up all the coffee cups.

“Grandpa is still very ill so I want you to take Tip to the beach”, she ordered.

Since Grandpa had become sick, no one had time to take Tip for walks along the windy ocean. Now Tip wagged her tail expectantly and pawed at the front door until the grandchildren emerged wrapped in scarves.

“Afternoon tea will be ready when you come home.” Although grumpy these days, Grandma hadn’t forgotten how hungry children were after a visit to the ocean. 

By the time they begun the return trip, the cold southerly winds began to blow. Tip marched along stiffly, the sudden chill in the air combining painfully with her aching paws. The children stopped to play on the swings but Tip, sensing something was wrong, trotted obediently home.

The red blinking light outside the house whisper Tip’s fears. She cowered by the gate as Grandma silently followed Grandpa’s still shape into the ambulance. Tip bounded back to the park and barked furiously for the children’s return.

Although Grandpa’s hospital room in the city was made cheery by bunches of roses, his voice whispered and his eyes dulled. The children sat stiffly in cold vinyl chairs and tried hard not to breathe in the hospital’s strange smells. Grandma fussed over the neatness of bedclothes and rattled on to cover the eerie quietness.

“Get better quick dear so we can go home and eat Mary’s peaches.”

Grandpa shifted wearily in his bed, “Good old Mary. Grew the best peaches. Bet they taste like heaven”, he drooled.

Grandpa was thrilled to see his old friends make special trips to visit him in the eternally cold hospital. Gradually he tired from his treatment and slept for long periods.

“It’s time we ate those peaches”, he whispered early one morning to the crisp night nurse. She repeated this strange comment to Grandma. Grandma looked knowingly as she pulled her chair close to the bed, whispered in his ear and sat back to wait. After half an hour, she stroked Grandpa’s peaceful face for the last time.

With Tip happily back to her old tricks of chasing seagulls, Grandma thankfully sat down to rest on the bench overlooking the ocean. The walk proved to her how out of shape she had become over the last few months.

A sudden burst of energy this morning sent her bottling Mary’s crate of peaches until the house was full of their sweet smell. Having peaches all year round was comforting to her, now that she was alone. Carefully she drew the last precious peach from her coat pocket and bit into its juicy flesh. 

“Just like you said Grandpa, Heavenly peaches”, she murmured into the fading sunset.