Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Grandmother Grew Avocados

A few weeks ago, when we were eating quesadillas with homemade guacamole, I thought to save the avocado pit. I put it in a baby food jar filled with water and set it on the window to catch the light. All I had in the cupboard were "festive" toothpicks, so the seed rests on brightly colored wood and sits every so gently in the water. I love it. So far, I am remembering to water it. I have hopes of planting it in a pot on our porch so that it might someday grow into a tree.

My avocado in a jar reminds me of my Grandmother Dixie. She used to keep avocado pits on her windowsill, too, though I'm not sure if any of them ever made it to pots. Hers had a much more appropriate container, a 1970's-ish avocado-shaped ceramic dish colored green and yellow. It might be described today as retro, vintage, something someone might bid for on eBay, but which she may have picked up at the grocery store for less than a dollar. It sat on her sunny windowsill above the kitchen sink. I always liked to check the pits' progress, whenever they would sprout.

I don't even remember eating avocados at my grandmother's house, only cornbread and collard greens and ice cream for dessert. I remember Thanksgiving dinners where the house filled with the aromas of food preparation, southern-fried goodness and gelatin salads. I remember eggs for breakfast, or Cheerios, and those last long conversations we had sitting around her kitchen table while I was planning our wedding. She loved to watch the birds outside her window. And so do I.

It is still hard for me to believe that it has been over 5 years since I last sat with her beneath the apple-patterned kitchen curtains amd watched the birds, over 5 years since she went on to be with the Lord -- just 5 days before our wedding. I am thankful for those frequent trips to Montgomery during what would be the last months of her life, and for our talks. She loved Gaines. I am glad she got to know him. She loved our family. She loved her neighbors. She was so generous to so many people and had so much to say...but there are so many questions I have that I never thought to ask her. Sometimes I still get the urge to call her.

One day, I'm hopeful, I will be able to ask her questions again and find out things I've always wanted to know, stories others could certainly could tell me perhaps, though not in her voice. Did she ever play in the hay bales on the farm like I did when I was young? How did she meet my grandfather? Did she really cut off the bedpost because he was always hanging his pants on it? How did she raise my mom and all my aunts and uncles? What was it like to lose her oldest son when he was still only a child? How did she always remain so full of life?

Some glad morning, I know, when all our tears have been wiped away, we will sit together at a glorious kitchen table in the New Creation. She will tell me about Cousin So-and-So, whom we are somewhat distantly related to by marriage, and about her neighbor who used to live down the street who just happens to be a cousin of ours, too. And will we be introduced, I and those oft-mentioned relatives whom I never met while she was alive. And even more glorious, everyone at that Table will be family, real family, the family bound by Christ and not complicated geneaologies. I hold on to that Hope.

Perhaps, in this New Creation, my grandmother and I will be gardeners together (my black thumb going the way of this old, broken body). We will begin, of course, by growing an avocado seed in a newly-made avocado dish glazed yellow and green. It will grow into a tree, and birds will find shelter in its branches.


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