Golden Boy died today

Somber photo of my daughter and son holding Golden Boy for one last time.

My daughter and son holding Golden Boy for the last time.

Golden Boy joined our family in October 2008. We accompanied our daughter on her preschool field trip to a farm only to discover the dark truth about what really happens on farms. We saw fields upon fields of pumpkins severed from their vines, left out to be sold to strangers or to rot — whichever happened first.

It goes without saying, the kids were in tears. What words can explain it? We promised our daughter we would rescue as many squash as possible that day, as far as the cash in our pockets would allow. The pumpkins came home and found a warm, dry perch atop a baker’s rank overlooking our dinner table.

There would be no pumpkin pie. No baked and salted seeds. No carvedĀ  jack-o-lanterns. We were caretakers.

The pumpkins had a good run, some semblance of a life observing a family grow around them, an alien experience I’m sure, but better than a moldy, spongy death alone in the mud of winter rains.

By June, all but one pumpkin had left us. The sole survivor would come to be known as Golden Boy.

Eighteen months. A wonderful, thoughtful 18 months we shared together. Then, just before dinner tonight, a white cap caught my eye. It was mold on Golden Boy, from above and below.

We ate our broccoli-ham-cheese omelets in silence. Without anyone saying anything, my now 5-year-old daughter knew what must be done. My dyspraxic 2-year-old son said nothing, but I could see recognition in his eyes.

But then I thought, no, every moment is a teaching moment. I grabbed a pencil and paper and asked my daughter to tell me ten good things about Golden Boy. We would pay tribute to his memory.

After dinner, I told Daughter to dress in black. We would be spending some time in the backyard. Such grim business is not fit for a 2-year-old, so my wife distracted my son with a bath. We told him it was to remove the egg and cheese from his hair.

While my daughter picked out a black witch’s dress, black pirate hat and black boots, I performed a quick autopsy on the kitchen counter. I made a longitudinal incision along his waist and quickly confirmed what we all suspected — internal rot.

Photo of the pumpkin cut open, revealing white whispy innards, moldy cobwebs.

…whispy cobwebs of white moldy sorrow.

As much as we had tried to provide for Golden Boy, a life of captivity separated from his vine and extended family was too much for him. His spirit collapsed from within.

Amid the strands of dessicated pulp I made an astonishing discovery. Golden Boy was a girl. Inside her were hundreds of seeds. I quickly scooped them out and put Golden Boy back together before my daughter returned.

We then made our way to the backyard where my daughter dug a grave in a patch of feral grass growing at the far edge of our yard adjacent to our lawn.

Photo of my daughter digging a grave in a black witch's dress, black pirate cap and black boots.

After we patted the last bit of soil down, I gave a brief eulogy:

“Golden Boy was a good pumpkin. He was a loving pumpkin, clean and strong for lasting so long. He filled our room with happiness. His orangey goodness lit up the room on rainy days. He made Halloween a better day simply for having been there, and he outlasted the candy. He was a leader, an ambassador among pumpkins, and now he is in the ground where he will help grow new pumpkins we will plant here. Goodbye Golden Boy.”

Tomorrow, I will tell my kids of Golden Boy’s seeds. We will endeavor not to raise just any old pumpkins, but, indeed, Golden Boy’s children. He may yet achieve immortality through his family, providing them nourishment even if they will never know him. I mean her.

See previously: Halloween tradition: pumpkin races

See mysteriously related: The Tenth Good Thing about Barney


5 Responses to “Golden Boy died today”

  1. PAUL says:

    So sorry for your loss…If it’s any small comfort, remember that all squash go to heaven!

    April 29th, 2010 at 8:00 am

  2. AJ says:

    Ahh, see, after reading the reviews and comments on reviews for The Tenth Good Thing about Barney at, I figured I’d anger Christians by suggesting plants go to Heaven and anger atheists by mentioning Heaven at all.

    April 29th, 2010 at 1:25 pm

  3. Penguinmommy says:

    Sorry for your loss, but glad to see you understand the importance of mourning in pirate/witch attire.

    In a way, this kind of makes up for my Dad telling us our dog had died on the door stoop where she slept, then, in the same breath, asking if we thought she’d fit into city garbage bin so he wouldn’t have to dig a grave THAT big… (in all fairness Blackie was quite rotund).

    Of course, my coworkers also laughed when I buried my beta fish on the edge of our parkinglot…

    April 29th, 2010 at 4:14 pm

  4. Lady in a Smalltown says:

    What a beautiful story.

    May 21st, 2010 at 4:31 am

  5. Nikki says:

    One day I will write a children’s book about it, but I once had a pet coconut.
    His name was charlie and he rocked.
    Then he fell off the bed one day and got cracked. Then he started to smell funny.
    Not sure what happened to him after that.
    we didn’t bury him, I am pretty sure of that.

    May 23rd, 2010 at 7:52 pm