The Battle of Man and Tomato

Tomato: 1 John: 0

(That’s my father.)

We went to dinner tonight and he ordered a salad and he couldn’t get the cherry tomato with his fork.

One single cherry tomato remained.

And I was making fun of him, because he kept trying to pick it up and it was just rolling away.

“Just stab it,” I said.

He insisted that he could make it happen with his chosen utensil. “It’ll just slide away,” he said. I laughed at him.

“Just use your spoon,” I said. “Scoop it.”

“I can’t say I’ve ever run across a tomato I can’t eat with a fork.”  I wrote it down on the paper place mat, because I was already writing this blog in my head.

My Dad is so stubborn and it makes for wonderful blog fodder.

He is a very methodical man– he rarely varies his approach. He figures if it persists long enough, eventually it’ll work– and most of the time it does. He follows the rules and does everything the right way. And it’s worked for him in business and finances.

But he was no match for that errant tomato, slippery in viniagrette.

And I highly enjoyed pointing out the futility of his method.

He even picked up his knife and nudged the tomato onto the fork, and raised it to his mouth.

ALMOST made it– and then the tomato jumped ship.

Plop! Right in his lap.

I laughed shamelessly.

He picked it up and ate it– the old-fashioned way.

“Shoulda used a spoon,” I chided. And he started laughing too and acknowledged his defeat.

But that’s how much of a gentleman he is– and that’s what makes him an amazing father.

And hilarious.

On All Souls’ Day

Today is All Souls’ Day….

I didn’t make it to Mass.

But I will honor it with a blog post.

I send up a prayer to those in my life who have passed on and crossed to other side to be with Him, in Eternal Rest.

I lost a lot of important people in my family when I was young– and consequently, I carry a bit of sadness with me. I have wonderful days where I feel the full grace of God’s love in my life and I couldn’t be happier– but that’s also tempered by a feeling of loss that never quite abides. However, I think it’s made me a better person.

Because of those losses, I am so much more appreciative of what I do have. Of the people in my life who have blessed me.

I think it’s made me a much more empathic person– because I understand how grief can shape your character and also cause you to feel angry for a long time until you learn to see the beauty even in the darkness. It forces you to grow up faster. And it gives you a serious personality, even as a young child. A lot of people would characterize me as extroverted and friendly– and I am. And the joy that I exude at those times is genuine. But I’m also very intuitive about the sadness in others, which is sometimes a gift and sometimes feels like a burden. I feel what they feel, and sometimes wish I was less aware of these feelings in others. But when someone confides in me, I feel honored. I’m not the person that’s angry you called me at 3 a.m.– I’m the person who just asks what’s wrong and what I can do to help. If you need to be picked up, I’ll be there. Or I’ll just listen or give you a hug, or whatever I can do.

Sometimes it’s weird– I still have to draw boundaries about it. You don’t want to put yourself in danger, physically or emotionally, and you need to be aware that some people use a front of vulnerability to evoke pity in order to take advantage. I’ve become savvier over the years about sensing this facade. I’ve learned to know when I can give my time, and to whom– while also taking care of myself and my own physical and emotional boundaries.

I have been naive, and I have suffered for that as well.

But I’d rather have a heart that’s too big than one that’s too small.

I also feel that these losses early in my life have been a blessing in disguise. I feel as if I have a team of Guardian Angels, looking out for me. I feel that they protect me constantly. No matter how much someone wants to argue with me about God and the “facts” of faith, I have daily, hourly evidence in my life of God’s grace and the power of prayer.

Sometimes I wish I could just dismiss my faith– it would make my life simpler. My conscience smaller. I’ve tried. I’ve tried to intellectualize everything.

But at the core of my being, I feel that I am deeply loved by Him– and that I owe it in return to extend that love to others.

I struggle with that, of course. But it’s a choice that I make whenever possible. And as I age, I make better decisions.

So thank you Lord, my dear Father, for all those in my life who have influenced me– positively or negatively.

They all have something to teach. They all did the best they could. They all are human, both saint and sinner.