my hands smell green. they smell like the leaves and stalks of a tomato plant, which is not surprising, considering i just picked several off the plant growing in a pot on my back deck. it’s been a good harvest, which surprised me, since the leaves look like a poster for unhealthy plant development, all green and grey and curled. it is not an overly attractive plant.
i brought the tomatoes in and put them on the counter for later. they’re delicious when cut up and placed on top of a baked potato that’s been stuffed with cottage cheese.
my grandmother used to have tomatoes picked from the vine in her kitchen too. i remember seeing them lined up on the window in varying stages of ripeness, like little soldiers waiting for their orders, resting alongside windfall apples from the tree that grew outside her window. it’s a good memory.
i need good memories of my grandmother because i’m angry with her, notwithstanding the fact that she died almost thirty years ago. she was my grandmother and i loved her, but she was not the best mother to mine. she was angry. she could be abusive. she was controlling. she was passive aggressive.
she was also in pain. her husband died while flying home to meet my mother after she was born – he was military – and the shock sent my grandmother into a nervous breakdown that lasted several years. it’s safe to say she never fully recovered, though that was her choice.
my heart breaks for the young woman she was then, what she faced and endured, and yet my anger colours that too. anger over what my mother dealt with while growing up, anger at the way she treated my father, anger at some of the ways she treated me.
and yet, i loved her.
people are complicated.
so, it’s nice, to pick tomatoes and remember that there was more to her and our relationship than the things that make me angry. it’s good to look at the good times. she loved her daughter. she loved us. she was just hurt and angry and lashed out. i get it. i wish it was different but life is what it is. i cannot change what was. all i can do is try and look back with compassion and focus on the little things, like tomatoes on the counter. all i can do is change how i look at things. the only thing i can control is me.