Pickin' maters

Not everything is bad in regards to my new, healthy diet. Turns out, granola bars are pretty good. And 4 or 5 of them can usually fill me up. Bananas have long been my favorite fruit, and Subway makes a bunch of subs that are pseudo-healthy, even with the provolone cheese I cannot say no too. And, of course, I can have all vegetables I want.

I have never been a picky eater, obviously. That's part of the problem today. But my Dad would tell you that, out of the three kids, I was the easiest to buy for. As long as we steered clear of cucumbers and watermelon, I would eat it. Or at least try it. I loved the fried okra my Mamaw made. I could put down a whole can of red beets at once. And I preferred broccoli to chocolate every day of the week. But one of my favorite snacks has always been a tomato sandwich. On wheat.

Yesterday, we had the Gilbert Reunion at my Aunt and Uncle's home in Fairlfield, Ohio. At dinner, I gathered the food on my plate and went to find a seat next to Papaw.  Over the past few years we have had some great conversations and I have learned so much about him that I never knew before. Now, I seek out time with him so I can hear more. And yesterday was no exception.

As we chatted, he told me about deals he got and about his failing hearing. I told him about my health scare and that I had to change my diet. However, I told him, I still get to eat tomatoes. And asked him if he had any in the garden (Papaw's gardens are legendary, and some of my greatest childhood memories were spent with him there). He replied "Sure, come get you some" and I told him I would.

And I did. Today.

We left early and got to his house about 10:30 this morning. We sat down and talked for a few minutes. He told us about some shells he had bought and sold, and about his drive to Florida and back many years ago, and about his great grand-daughter, who loves going to the garden with him. Tiffany, Tanner, and I listened intently until he said it we needed to get to the other house (the one he shared with Mamaw for so many years) and pick the tomatoes before it rained.

I drove the short distance to the old place on Morrow-Rossburg Road. It was the first time he had ever been my passenger, and I was careful to not drive like....well..me. We got there and walked to the back. And there was the garden.

Smaller than it was when I was a kid, it was otherwise exactly as I remembered. A couple of tillers with buckets over the engines, different rows with different vegetables growing, and lots and lots of maters. He handed Little Red a bowl and me a basket. My wife went to one patch and started filling. And me and my Papaw picked in another.

Suddenly I was 5 years old again. He was showing me what to look for and how I knew when to toss one out. He threw some peppers in the basket and told me about how they had sprouted up. He told me not to walk on the turnips he had just planted and, at some point, smacked me on the arm and said "how's that strike you?" Give the man a beard and it would have been 1979. And I loved every minute of it.

When we got back to his new house, he took me out to the garage. He showed me all the tools and gadgets, the nuts and bolts, and the other cool stuff he had gotten in his deals. I told him I am always looking for deals too and that mine and Tiff's dream is to open a little general/thrift store. He told me he would keep an eye out and let me know if he found something good. Then we went back inside, where his wife, Lina, had made a big old home cooked meal. It was the perfect way to wrap a visit to see the Old Man.

As we left, he told me to come back for tomatoes anytime I wanted. I smiled and told him I would, and that it really wasn't about the maters. He smiled and said "Well all right" which in Papaw speak means Yeah I know.

Day # 546 (again). The man is 84 years old and still could whoop you, me, and anyone else we wanted to bring. And I get to call him my Papaw. It is good to be me.




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