“The Angry Avocado and the Tough Cookie” (excerpts from a book by Marselo Marshall, in honor of his mom Autumn Marshall.

One sunny weekend Markus, mom and I were hanging around in our tree, when we were all suddenly picked by the farmer and placed in a wicker basket.  The quality control man examined each avocado. The quality control man turned me around in his hand and said, “Just right!” He picked up Markus, turned him around in his hand and said, “Just right!” Then he picked up our mother, Autumn, and frowned. “Hmmm” he said. “There is something that shouldn’t be here.” Mom didn’t say anything, but her eyes got big, as she put her arms around us.
The quality control man took Mom to a special building and ran tests on her. When he finally told Mom that she had lymphatic cancer, we had to go to the big barn and stay with Aunt Sarah. “Autumn Avocado cannot come home for awhile,” he tried to explain to us.

Markus and I stayed with Aunt Sarah, but every night we put on our pajamas and went to see our mother to say good night. Mom was wearing a mask, but we read stories together and played games. We watched shows and laughed. I think it made her feel better to be with us.  I know it made me feel better to be with her.
For fourteen days we stayed at Aunt Sarah’s barn. Mom was at the special quality control place being treated for cancer. Every night we visited Mom. We missed her and we wanted her to come home. I was getting really angry. Markus was just confused, but we didn’t talk to each other about it because we didn’t want Mom sad. I missed Mom reading to us at night. I kept thinking back over all the times Markus and I had been naughty, or didn’t listen, or played tricks on each other or Mom. I wished I could take it all back.
After a long time, Mom was finally ready to come home! That day, Aunt Sarah, Uncle Manuel, and Mom’s best friend, Amanda, all came with us. The specialists let Mom ring a bell. Markus and I got to ring it, too.

“You’re one tough cookie, Autumn!” all the people at the quality control building said to her. I was so happy when we finally went home together! Some time later, Mom had to go back to the quality control place to have a pit scan. The specialists were so sad to tell her that she was not cancer free. I could see that Mom was very worried, but then I remembered what the experts had told her when she rang the bell.  I said, “Remember, Mom, you’re one tough cookie” – even if she was an avocado.

Epilogue – Despite all the efforts of the doctors and nurses, Autumn’s body could not fight the cancer anymore. One evening in December, 2020, Marselo and Markus went to the hospital with Aunt Sarah to see Autumn. Four days later, Autumn called the boys from the hospital and they said their last good bye. Several hours later, she died.


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