“READ: About the PUMPKIN ANGEL”

October is usually a happy time for me—my grandchildren, Daniel and Carly, get all excited about Halloween. They spend weeks beforehand discussing their costumes and dreaming of all that candy.

More than anything else, though, they love pumpkins. And not just any pumpkins. They wanted the ones grown by their great-aunt Margaret. What would my grand-kids do this first Halloween after she died?

I liked to joke that my sister Margaret had a soft spot for those kids—the compost pile in her backyard. That’s where the pumpkins grew. And she and the kids tended to them, slipping an upside-down pie pan under each one so it wouldn’t rot sitting on the ground.

Whenever I picked up my grandchildren and took them to visit Margaret, they’d barely say hello before bursting out into the yard to see what was going on in their “pumpkin patch.” They harvested them and used the big ones for carving into jack-o’-lanterns.

I didn’t know why or how pumpkins grew in a compost heap, of all places. Margaret never planted seeds. Maybe she’d thrown an old pumpkin out there one year. She had a green thumb, though. She could have dug a hole, dropped in a worm and ended up growing a rose bush.

I envied her gardening skills. If only I had inherited Margaret’s abilities after she passed away.

Halloween without Margaret’s pumpkins, Lord? I prayed one night. I wished there were some other way to make the day special. To let Daniel and Carly know their great-aunt’s spirit lived on.

Next day I went to visit the kids. I can help them with their costumes, I thought. That’ll be something, at least. “Hi!” I said, opening the door.

As soon as I walked in they said the quickest hello before shouting, “Grandma! Grandma! Come and see!”

“See what?”

“Just come!” they said, grabbing my hands and dragging me with them. We went outside. There, right on the side of the house, were half-a-dozen pumpkins. All plump and orange, with vines trailing everywhere. Growing in a spot where nothing had ever been planted.

I said, “You know what Aunt Margaret would do if she were here…” We all raced to the kitchen to get some pie pans. The biggest and best got turned into jack-o’-lanterns. The rest decorated the front porch. And they lasted for months, an autumn-long reminder for my two little pumpkin patch kids.

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