It is customary to want to have things last forever and continue to flourish and provide us with the bounty that they are brought to this world to do. Having a few greenhouses assures me that I can at least get a few more months at the end of the summer before a short stagnation of fresh greens. But then again, what would I have to look forward to if I had that available at all times?
“Planting seeds” is also a terminology used to also get something you want without asking for it; allowing the people you planted the seed with to assume, maybe, that it was their idea. This was the case a few weeks back when my three aunts, otherwise known as “Les Trois tantes” stopped in to deliver me some of their heirloom squash. In exchange, because they refuse to take payment, I donate a bag of flour in time for their annual church holiday pie baking fair of which they make over 100 pies. Last year, I slipped in two bags unnoticed to them which you might be able to imagine did not go over well when they got home. There was a phone call that followed about their getting even, and on and on and on….
This year, upon delivery, they brought another sister along to help with the enforcement of just one bag and not two. They prepped her ahead of time of my sneakiness and how to approach the situation. After our initial greeting and hugs, she got right down to business. Mind you now, these are four 80-85-year-old women telling me what and how this deal was going to go down. After listening to Connie, I pulled her aside and told her that I continue to try and give my father bread and how he refuses it because his three sisters make him all the bread he needs. I feel bad that they should have to make his bread and pay for all of the ingredients, never mind their time. This way, by giving them an extra bag of flour, I can at least ease their burden a bit and feel like I am contributing. She paused, thought about it for a moment, turned to her three sisters and said: “She has a Point”. The argument now turned between the four of them at which point I stepped in and said that the real issue here was my father. Perhaps they should bring him over for lunch sometime for us to talk about the matter. The exchange was made and they went on their way with more to think about.
A week later, not only did they bring my father, but the other two sisters as well. I have to say I felt a bit outnumbered seeing 7 of them heading towards the store. How was I now going to maneuver my way out of the second bag of flour? The ages of the group now went from 80-94. You don’t mess with aunts and uncles over the age of 90; especially the ones with a sharp mind.
They sat down around one big table for lunch. I took their orders, made them all some of my herbal tea (laced with lavender, lemon balm, rosemary, and nettles). The tea itself would get them distracted from what I had planned.
I took my place at the table next to my Dad and had conversations in French with all of them. I don’t get to speak the language very often and find it fulfilling to be able to do it amongst my elders when I can. When lunch was nearly through, my Dad leaned over and said that he was going to pay for everyone’s lunch. You guessed it, another combative argument ensued amongst the 7 siblings; this time just watching and listening with a smile on my face. After a few minutes, I stepped in and assured them that it was the best for everyone to let my father pay. I convinced them that my Dad owed me money for all the cottage cheese he has delivered to him and that this was one way of getting my money. If they felt the need to pay him, they could do so by continuing to make his bread. They all had confused looks on their faces, but seemed to go along with what was just said; my tea was working.
That evening I did get a phone call. Not from my aunts, but rather from my Dad. He had entrusted me with his card to ring up the luncheon, which I did with a 5% tip. The issue was that I didn’t charge him for all the cottage cheese I apparently said he owed me for. I assured him that there would be another time that we could deal with that and or perhaps someone else already paid it for him as a way of getting even??
I planted the seeds and got what I wanted—a memory that will never run out in my mind and one that I can only share in words. I can hopefully look forward to another visit like this one; next time perhaps bringing the one missing sibling, my Dads brother Bertrand. I did plant that seed upon their leaving; we’ll see what happens.
I hope my words can paint the picture of the scenes that I experienced on that day having had lunch with some wonderful life mentors. Otherwise, perhaps the picture will speak for itself.