Every time I see or open a can of sliced peaches my thoughts are led back to my early childhood years. It brings a smile to my face and usually a conversation that follows. Everyone always asks why peaches but I really do not know how to answer but perhaps because of the times and they were maybe imported American peaches. I do know that it was the late 1970s and times were hard for everyone including my foster family. I remember my foster father occasionally bringing back these peaches when he had to go into town. It has always been a wonderful memory and I find myself buying canned peaches so I can tell our children this story.
The small leafy plant that sat in the corner of the room seemed to perk up immediately as the rays from the sun came filtering in from the small window that sat perfectly in the middle of the white wall. With it came an intense heat that warmed the floor almost to the point that made it unbearable to sit. The room was bright with shimmers of light that streamed down over our heads and onto the ornaments that sat on top of the little wooden dresser. The mother of pearl that was carved so intricately into the face of the dresser sparkled and danced as if to lift its little petals off the dresser and into the light.
We were all mesmerized by the presence of the late afternoon light and had almost tuned out the chatter and confusion of our daily routine. Our foster mother walked up to the window and peeked out into the yard. She turned to look at us very excited; she smiled and said, “Father is here! He made it back early. Bali Bali!! Hurry! Quickly now! Let’s clean up and set the table. Go get the babies. Please, get our Beads for prayer. Children, all gather now.” We all ran around laughing and bumping into each other to quickly clean the little room and to call all the younger ones into the house to greet our foster father. I was very much excited and smiled very big to show my foster mother how happy I was. Amazingly, we all managed to gather around the round wooden table before he arrived at the door.
The paper panel door to the room slid open with a huge voice that greeted us as our foster father entered the room. We all smiled and greeted him anxiously as he walked over to the table carrying in his arms a little black plastic bag. He sat down and opened the bag; taking out a large can of sliced peaches. He looked very pleased from his day trip into town. Foster mother walked over to the table and eased herself down to kneel down and to sit on her legs. She passed around the beads to all the children that sat around this circle. We lowered our heads and they began to chant a prayer.
I tried not to look up but I peered across the table to see everyone praying. As my eyes circled the room, I watched some of the children praying with tears and others, like my foster mother’s daughter, sitting, and holding her husband’s hand and her baby with the other. I tried to mirror the other children who seemed to know the words and who also had tears that ran down their small faces. I could not shed even one tear. I kept thinking about the canned peaches and how I wanted to eat them. I tried to quietly yawn to let out a small tear but nothing came forth. I felt my eyes become a bit moist and hoped that everyone could see my tears as I tried to look as if I was praying. I sat with my head down low and waited for the prayer to end.
The silence broke with loud cheering and big smiles that could be felt all around the room. Our foster father laughed as he made sure everyone at the table got their piece of the sliced peaches. I quickly reached over to take my plate from his hands and placed it in front of me. A huge grin spread across my face as I sat and stared down at my little peach slice. I did not want to eat it right away. It is not because I could not have more but knew how special they were.
6 years ago