Garden of Memory

About two weeks ago, my wonderful father passed away.  To quote a birthday card my brother gave him in the early '70's, my dad was absolutely loving and hilarious.  I miss him terribly.

Dad died a few minutes before midnight on a Tuesday, and I got the call just a few minutes later.   At 5:00 am, in a sleepless daze, I packed my suitcase for what would be an 11-day long journey, first to Florida to be with my mom and help organize the memorial service, and then for a long-planned work trip which would immediately follow.    (As for packing:  I did pretty well on underwear, less well on socks.  And no, you can't get away with wearing the same pair of black pants five days in a row, because they do actually show dirt, particularly if you spend one of those days splashing through the muddy March rain in St. Louis.)

At 7:00 am Steve drove me to the airport, asking on the way if there was anything he needed to take care of in my absence.   "The seedlings in the basement," I answered.  "Just keep them alive."

In mid-February, between record-setting blizzards, I had planted a tray of lettuce seedlings and a couple dozen cells of foxglove.  And Steve did keep them alive, beautifully.  When I finally got home, I found that my lettuce had blossomed into a lush collage of thriving plants:

 

The finicky foxgloves, too, had begun to pop:

 

Yesterday, two days after my return, Steve and I traipsed out into the backyard, where the snow is still 20 inches deep.  We cleared a space in the vegetable garden so we could plop down the coldframe.

The sun will heat the soil in the frame, and in a week or two I'll be able to plant out the lettuce.   With any luck we'll be munching on home-grown salads by the end of April. 

This symbolism of rebirth, of the arrival of spring after the cold and loss of a miserable winter, is so obvious that I'm almost embarrassed to write about it.   But why would any of us garden if not for renewal and hope and beauty?  For that matter, why would we even get out of bed?

Truth be told, my dad wasn't the biggest fan of leafy greens.   At some point my mom, or maybe a doctor, had convinced him that salads were salutary, so he'd eat one from time to time, especially if it was graced by beets, of which he was rather fond (I'm with you there, Dad).

Here's what my dad would really have loved me to grow in my garden:  steak.   Or bagels and lox, or pretty much any other salty Jew food.   Or spare ribs or clams, lest you get the wrong idea about his dietary limitations.  (As it happens, clam seeding is an actual thing; maybe I should give it a try.)

Or blintzes!   Dad loved blintzes.  A Blintz Bush.....there's an idea with potential:

The one actual vegetable my dad truly loved was tomatoes.  His favorite breakfast was a treat he learned from his father, a cream cheese and tomato sandwich.   My grandfather (who died long before I was born) called it a "Super Duper," and my dad did, too.

So this summer, I will grow the biggest and juiciest slicing tomatoes I can manage.

When they're ripe, I'll get out the bread and the cream cheese and make myself a whole tray of drippy, luscious Super Dupers.

And when I eat them, Dad, I'll think of you.

 Photo by Robert Weber, http://bweberphotography.com/

 

7 comments

  • Stephen Ansolabehere
    Stephen Ansolabehere
    He was a dear, sweet, fun-loving man, with a wonderful sense of humor. He lives on in you.

    He was a dear, sweet, fun-loving man, with a wonderful sense of humor. He lives on in you.

  • Judy Weber
    Judy Weber
    Delightful piece. Delightful man.

    Delightful piece. Delightful man.

  • Inge Gould
    Inge Gould
    A beautiful and fitting tribute! Loved the blintzes bush. And I loved Stephen's comment, too!

    A beautiful and fitting tribute! Loved the blintzes bush.
    And I loved Stephen's comment, too!

  • Ellen Kopel
    Ellen Kopel
    Beautiful way to hit the mark exactly and eloquently as always XOXO

    Beautiful way to hit the mark exactly and eloquently as always XOXO

  • Carol Gibbon
    Carol Gibbon
    This was extraordinary: graceful, eloquent, elegant, witty, sad. A+ and then some!

    This was extraordinary: graceful, eloquent, elegant, witty, sad. A+ and then some!

  • Megan
    Megan
    I can just hear Bob talking about lettuce…..this brings a big smile to my face.

    I can just hear Bob talking about lettuce…..this brings a big smile to my face.

  • Richard Travers
    Richard Travers
    Beautiful man and family. Always had a smile and a story. And did he love music! My goodness, it was always a pleasure to hear him talk about music that he loved. But his family was the true love of his life. Honored to have shared a few "refreshing adult beverages" with him. As the Irish would say 'Slainte" - to a life well lived, to a life well loved. T

    Beautiful man and family. Always had a smile and a story. And did he love music! My goodness, it was always a pleasure to hear him talk about music that he loved.

    But his family was the true love of his life. Honored to have shared a few "refreshing adult beverages" with him.
    As the Irish would say 'Slainte" - to a life well lived, to a life well loved.

    T

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