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If my mother were to have a Facebook page, I believe she’d have to check the “It’s complicated” response on relationships.
Dad, her lifelong mate, died nearly five years ago, and Mom has made it clear that she’s not seeking another man in her life.
But it is funny, even in a bittersweet sort of way, how she continues some of the rivalries with him, even when he is gone.
Dad was known for his tomato gardens. Anyone who knew him well knew that Dad grew plenty of the mouthwatering fruit and gave them away generously.
He spent so much time in his tomato patch that, after he died, we scattered some of his ashes there.
Mom has tried to carry on a limited version of the the tradition, but until this year, her efforts have been in vain.
Typically, the tomatoes have rotted on the vine, although there have been some that dried up in a drought.
She tried planting tomatoes in pots on the porch.
She tried the topsy-turvy, upside down tomato-growing thingee.
It was a flop.
But this year, Mom got lucky.
She put her tomatoes up near where Dad used to grow row after row of them.
When it was dry, this 70-something woman regularly dragged the heavy hose up the long hill to water them.
A hailstorm beat the plants to pieces, but somehow they rebounded.
Now Dad, when he grew tomatoes, always aimed to have them ready for eating by July 4.
I don’t remember a single year when he missed that self-imposed deadline — even the years he was fighting cancer.
This year, though, Mom beat Dad’s deadline punch.
She had a plump, juicy Better Boy variety ripened and ready by Father’s Day.
After hearing what seemed like every other day updates on the tomatoes’ progress, she marveled when she finally — FINALLY — had one ready for harvest.
Mom was also pleased that she had surpassed Dad’s efforts — at least with this single tomato.
Me, I can’t help but think that Dad would have relish Mom’s victory almost as much as she has.
And now I can think of both of them when I bite into a juicy BLT or just a sun-warmed, fresh-picked home-grown.