There is a place my mother and I like to go to in Kensington Market. We have been going there for many years. They have the best apples in the market, and often, when we come in, they will do that thing that merchants do to make their loyal customers feel welcome. They will haul some stuff from the back storage room - extra fresh, and just for you.
Sometimes my mother will call and say: "I got some fabulous Jonas Gold apples from Manuel, and I am dropping they by your house.
An uncle and his nephew run the place, although I could never remember who is which. They will always say: "Your mother was here yesterday/earlier today/where has she been?" when I come up to the counter. Lately they had been joking with me about my massive belly.
Lately I had noticed that Manuel looked weak, despite his round baby face. His back was sore and he didn't know how he was going to make deliveries. "You should go get that checked out!" said a concerned customer. The next time I saw him he said it was better, but then the last time I saw him, he looked pale and withdrawn. He barely acknowledged me. Not a word about my mom or the belly.
My mom called in tears. "I noticed that manuel was not there today, so I asked where he was. They told me he died on Friday of a heart attack."
I went by yesterday. We are making apple pie tonight, so I picked up some cortland and golden delicious. I got to the counter and the uncle said: "Did your mother tell you?" I nodded and took a deep breath and looked at him as he drew in his lower lip, his eyes tearing up. I tried my best to lean over the counter and gave him a hug.
Across the street at the house of spice, I said "I am so sorry to hear about Manuel." "Thirty years I worked across from him. He never took a day off. And now he is dead." said the owner. "It is hard to focus."