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Keep it Real Wednesday

June 16, 2021

Rosemary loves tomatoes, FRESH tomatoes.   Maybe it started when she married a full blooded Italian but this Irish girl could live off tomatoes. She loves them in every form, raw and eaten like an apple with garlic salt, tomato and mayo sandwich on white bread, fresh bruschetta, tomato and grilled cheese sandwiches, fresh tomato soup, and tomatoes in every cooked fashion.

My dad was an avid gardener.  Our kids remember his towering garden of plants with jenga type wooden posts towering over 6 feet tall which they would wander through like a tomato jungle.  My mother would carefully cut up old sheets to use as ties for the dangling plant limbs which added to the character of this unique garden.

After my dad died, I was somehow passed the tomato growing torch.

I have never been much of a gardener, but I must admit, watching my tomatoes grow is one of my favorite times of year.

For the past 23 years, Rosemary has carefully cut up old sheets and pillowcases to use as ties for my tomato garden, just like she did for my Dad. 

This year however, her hands are too crippled with arthritis to use scissors so for the first time ever, I cut up my own fabric ties.  As I sat outside shredding my well-worn previously favorite long sleeve tee-shirt into long strips, I thought about all the years and generations before me doing the exact same thing. 

I recalled my Dad talking about his grandfather Nanu, from Sicily, who would tend to his plants all hunched over from many years of hard work as he tended to his garden.  I thought about my Dad and his love for growing tomatoes and the pride on his face when he picked the perfect one.

I thought about my Mom and her love for helping to tend to the garden and her love of eating them.

I thought about our dog Angus, a delightful Golden Retriever who could somehow sniff out all the ripe ones and eat them right off the vines before I could pick them.

I thought of my own daughter and son in law – who planted with pride their very first tomato garden this year and send pictures to me of their progress.

Is it about tomatoes?   I’m not really sure.   But it certainly fills my heart and soul each season to walk down all these memories, people and generations.

And as for those tomato, mayo sandwiches on white bread with a hint of garlic salt?  It doesn’t get any better.

Just ask Rosemary!

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