Later in life, I had the opportunity to give back to him in the form of heirloom tomato seeds and plants. He always had a small garden, but once he tasted ripe Cherokee Purples and Lucky Crosses, he made the same sort of conversion that I did, saying farewell to Better Boys, when in his 70s. His tomatoes were the talk of Sweet Avenue and Pawtucket Congregational Church. Just after he passed away in 2007, I found his garden diary, and was delighted in his record keeping, as well as the daily musings of someone who clearly loved what he was doing. He was a special man - a great father and husband, a gentle person with a wonderful sense of humor. Whenever I am out in the garden, or reading, or blogging, he is with me.
But that's only half of the story. I can sense the impact of good, healthy food and gardening on my own two daughters, Sara and Caitlin. Just as in my case, when the seeds my dad planted went dormant as I got on with my life (only to rediscover them after I was married), I can sense the same sort of reawakening in my girls. Sara and I did lots of digging and planting in the garden together this year. She made many wonderful meals with the bountiful beets and greens and squash, and is going to take some seeds with her to Madagascar, as she embarks on another 6 month Peace Corps assignment next week. Caitlin has some of my seedlings growing in pots at her house, and always looks forward to stealing my Sungolds and Mexico Midgets. She was, in fact, my first tomato taste tester (along with my wife).
So I am feeling very blessed, very fortunate, and very happy, with memories of a wonderful childhood, great parents, and, because of that, a special family of my own....with a lifetime passion that will keep me busy for the rest of my life.