My father was a lucky man. He didn’t want much and what he did want was sitting around the dinner table every Sunday night. If my father were here today he wouldn’t want any gifts wrapped up in boxes. He’d have been happy to see me tending my vegetable garden and carrying on about all of my tomatoes. He never quite understood why I collect tomatoes, of all things, but he collected exotic cars, so I guess it’s in the blood. Even if he didn’t get my obsession he clearly knew how much it meant to me. So, when I went on about the colors and shapes, he would crack a little smile, sometimes chuckle and would willingly sample whichever variety I put in front of him.
In my backyard, across from one of the original tomato beds lies a small patio area. It’s next to one of the newer garden boxes that becomes a riot of color each spring with bearded irises and then transforms to a growing bed for tomatoes plants and grapevines. It’s just a few floor tiles, a white wrought iron bench, and a dwarf Valencia orange tree. The bench was a Father’s Day gift to Dad many years ago. It graced the front porch at my parent’s home although I don’t think they ever sat on it. It was just something that completed his vision of the porch. I grew up in a house that was in the middle of an orange grove. We squeezed fresh orange juice for my Dad every morning before he made the drive downtown to work. This little patio is framed on two sides by several rosebushes…all with names related to music. As a teenager my Dad was an incredibly gifted violinist and pianist, but young men in the 1930’s had more important things to do than pursue their dreams. Somehow, the rosebushes make me feel that I’m helping to keep his dream alive.
Sometimes I’ll go over and sit in this special place in the garden.. There’s a certain black and yellow butterfly that I’m sure hovers right above me because it carries my Father’s spirit. I’ll chat with my Dad as if he’s right there listening to me… It’s where I go to be with him. This place, this thing that I spend so many hours doing, is so much more than just growing tomatoes.
Happy Father’s Day.