We visited granddads house every summer, always the week just before going back to school. Granddad played draughts with me, he called them chequers and cackled when he won, which he always did. Every year he told me the same story about the man in Palestine and the gun, right after his victory, ‘it was him or me’. I never understood and defeated I retreated to the garden behind the house. The garden was full of trees, there was one, that reminded me of Parma violets.
Dad told me that granddads dad had planted the trees and that one was very special. He chose it for my great grandmother and he had carved their initials in the bark, just before proposing to her. Dad said that granddad had done the same. It was my tree. There were only ever 2 lots of initials and I wondered why my mum and dads weren’t there.
The discovery of a hidey hole soon made me forget. Every year I left a little treasure that I had found for the fairy that lived amongst the leaves. Some years it was joined by something from someone else, I am not sure who, but I think it was granddad, there was just something in his eye.
One summer I was hiding in the tree, dozing as you do when tired from your adventures, when I heard them. Divorce, that’s all I heard that summer. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it looked and sounded serious. I didn’t dare move a muscle, but made a pledge to leave a note to the tree fairy to make sure that mum and dad were kinder to each other. It must have worked, because they stayed together.
Over the years their fights became bickers, dampened by the heat of Spain’s summers. They moved to Spain for a new life. Dad’s new life ravaged his body, and now he slept almost all day.
Last autumn I decided on a last minute holiday and arrived to find him asleep as usual on the sofa, muttering, take me to the tree. Mum just tutted and looked that way that said it all.
Glass of wine in one hand, my other on him, mum and I caught up.
Three weeks later I am back at the tree. Dad is with me. I put him in the hole and ask the tree fairy to take him safely home.
It is only then I notice their initials, PD and GM.