Opal tells Gloria all kinds of stories. Before Gloria's eyes grew bad, she loved reading.
Opal feels so comfy around Gloria that she tells even tell her Otis was a criminal—and asks if she should be afraid of him because of it.
Gloria takes her for a field trip. All the way into the back of the backyard.
She stops in front of an old tree with bottles hanging all over it—beer, whiskey, and wine bottles. Whoa! That is a lot of bottles making creepy noises as they clink and clank together.
Gloria tells her this tree keeps her ghosts away—"the ghosts of all the things I done wrong" (14.22). Opal finds it hard to believe Gloria did so many things wrong, being as nice as she is.
Well, there's a reason Gloria uses alcohol bottles: they're all bottles she drank clean. Opal whispers that her mom was a drinker that couldn't stop. Gloria was a drinker, too, but she stopped.
Still, alcohol didn't cause all the bad things she did.
In the end, Gloria learned The Most Important Thing. Everyone has a different Most Important Thing, and Opal needs to figure hers out for herself.
Gloria tells her not to judge people based on their past, but on their present. So Otis should only be judged on what he does now, not what he did back in the day. And Opal shouldn't be so hard on the stink-o Dewberry boys.
Winn-Dixie follows Gloria Dump back to the house, and Opal looks at the tree again, wondering about her mother's personal tree of bottles. She wonders if she is a ghost to her mama like her mama is a ghost to Opal.