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The Story Fairy - Sammy And Mr. Jaconetti’S Garden
by Paula Ezop
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Paula M. Ezop writes a weekly spiritual/commentary column for Blue Ridge Today, a South Carolina publication. Her most recent book, Spirituality for Mommies is soon to be released.

The Story Fairy

Why just the other day the story fairy came my way and she whispered a story in my ear. She truly did…a wonderful story just for you…it is all about Sammy and Mr. Jaconetti’s garden.

Sammy’s friend Mr. Jaconetti lives in a big old house on the corner of Sammy's block. Next to the house is an empty lot. That’s where the old man always plants his garden. Mr. Jaconetti looks out for Sammy and Sammy looks out for Mr. Jaconetti.

The young boy and the old man were sitting on the swing on the front porch of the big old house. Mr. Jaconetti knew he had to let Sammy know there wasn’t going to be a garden this year. “I better get it over with,” he said to himself. "Sammy, the doctor told me I am supposed to take it easy this summer. You know how I love my garden. But this year we won’t be able to have one. Maybe next year," he said. He knew the boy would be disappointed. Sammy didn't want to wait till next year. By the look on Mr. Jaconetti's face he didn't want to wait until next year either. Summer just wouldn't be the same without that garden.

"What do you mean you're not going to have a garden this summer?" asked Sammy. "You can't break the tradition Mr. Jaconetti," he said. "I know, ever since I can remember there has been a garden next to the house. "What did we plant last year?” asked Sammy. “Why we planted tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, beans, peas, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, sweet corn, watermelon and strawberries. Oh, I almost forgot we planted sunflowers too,” said Mr. Jaconetti.

“At least we still have the grapes,” said Sammy. “Yes, the grapes. Remember it is still your job to keep the birds away from my grapevines,” he said. Last year Sammy was constantly chasing the birds away from his grapevines that hang from the rickety old trellis off the back porch. Mr. Jaconetti makes his homemade wine from these grapes.

“Remember how we all helped you water the garden?” “Yes, I remember,” said Mr. Jaconetti. Most of the time watering the garden would turn into a huge water fight. But old Mr. Jaconetti would never lose his temper he would just laugh. The garden made people in the neighborhood a little friendlier. People would walk by and say, "Hey Tony how's the garden?" He would always say, "The garden is wonderful. The best garden I've ever had."

"People love your vegetables Mr. Jaconetti," said Sammy. "Mrs. LaRosa can't make her sauce without your tomatoes." "Oh, she just likes to flatter me. Her sauce is wonderful no matter what she puts in it. She'll survive one summer without my tomatoes," he said. "Mr. Jaconetti, we gotta have a garden.” “You just tell me what needs to be done and I'll plant the garden," said Sammy. For a moment Mr. Jaconetti's eyes sparkled. But then he looked at the small, skinny eight-year-old boy standing in front of him and he knew it was an impossible task. "Sammy, it's just too hard for you, you are too young." "I can do it Mr. Jaconetti, I know I can do it. Please let me try," pleaded Sammy. "Alright Sammy, we start tomorrow morning bright and early. You be here at 7:00 am sharp." Mr. Jaconetti was sure that the boy would get discouraged once he realized how hard planting the huge garden would be.

The next morning at 7:00 am sharp Sammy was knocking on Mr. Jaconetti's door. Mr. Jaconetti opened the door and said, "Alright let's get started. First you have to get the shovel and the rake out of the tool shed behind the house. Oh, and get yourself a pair of gloves you'll need them or else you'll have blisters the size of quarters."

"Now Sammy, your first job is to clear the weeds out," said his old friend. The little boy went to work. His old friend sat on the swing on the front porch reading his newspaper and shouted directions every now and then. The sun was hot and there were bugs circling Sammy's head but the young boy was not going to get discouraged. People passed by on their way to work. “Good morning Tony. Hey Sammy, I see the old man put you to work,” they would say. By the end of the day Sammy had hardly made a dent in the weeds. “See you in the morning Mr. Jaconetti,” said Sammy. “Sammy, tomorrow is Saturday why not take a rest.” “No, there is still so much to do. I’ll be here in the morning,” he said.

That evening people gathered out on their front porches to enjoy the cool breeze. Eventually they all began talking about the garden. “There’s no way that little boy…what’s his name? Yah, Sammy. There’s no way he’s going to be able to get all those weeds out and plant that garden for the old man. No, there’s just no way,” said Mr. Stephanopolous. They all agreed. The boy was just too little and the garden was just too big.

Then Mrs. Iwanski spoke up, “Tomorrow is Saturday why don’t we all help with the garden? We can have it done in no time. What do you say? Tony has been so good to us all these years. That garden means a lot to him. Come on let’s help Sammy make him happy.” Everyone agreed. They would meet bright and early and they would bring their shovels, rakes and anything else that was needed to get the garden planted.

Before Mr. Jaconetti was even out of bed the next morning there were people working in his garden. His hearing wasn't so good these days so he wasn’t even aware that they were out there. When the alarm went off Mr. Jaconetti climbed out of bed, put on the coffee pot, got dressed and went out the front door to the porch to get the paper like he did every morning. He couldn’t believe his eyes. People were walking down the block with their shovels and rakes. Children were weeding in the garden and Mr. Stephanopolous was carrying plants from his truck. Tears swelled up in the old man’s eyes. Sammy came running down the block. He couldn’t believe it either. “Mr. Jaconetti,” cried Sammy, “Look, look, look at all the people!” He ran up on the porch and hugged him as tight as he could. The old man was crying.

“Hey Tony, we need your help,” yelled Mr. LaRosa from the garden. “Tell us where you want everything planted.” Mr. Jaconetti dried his eyes and started giving directions. "No, no, put the tomatoes here. Yes, that's it. The watermelon needs lots of room, put that there," said the old man. This went on all day long until finally just when the sun was ready to set the garden was complete. Dirty, exhausted and very hungry everyone gathered on Mr. Jaconetti's front porch. Mrs. LaRosa brought over ice-cold lemonade. Mrs. Iwanski brought over her delicious homemade bread and butter. Mrs. Andersen brought over her homemade pineapple upside down cake. Mrs. Cohen made little sandwiches. Soon there was enough food for an army. Before you knew it the front yard was filled with lawn chairs, music was playing and everyone was laughing and having a good time.

Mr. Jaconetti brought out a bottle of his homemade wine. Glasses were filled. "Here's to everyone's good health! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your help. Here's to the garden!" said old Mr. Jaconetti with tears welling up in his eyes. Glasses were raised and a loud cheer went up, "Here's to Tony! Here's to the garden!"

Sammy and Mr. Jaconetti stood on the sidewalk in front of the garden watering the young plants and smiling. Mr. Jaconetti put his arm around the young boy. It was Sammy's determination that made the neighborhood realize what an important part of the neighborhood Mr. Jaconetti and his garden were and just what neighbors are for. It's like Sammy always says, "Mr. Jaconetti looks out for me and I look out for Mr. Jaconetti." This summer when people walk by and say, "Hey Tony how's the garden?" And Tony says, "The garden is wonderful. The best garden I've ever had." Everyone will agree…

The End

Published: Jul 17,2008 09:44
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