If were I to stay at home (my preferred location 98.5% of the time) I would not have to pass the vegetable man’s house. Boy one’s bus stop is a few miles away. I get in the car to pick him up because otherwise he would be late for dinner. This forces me to drive by the vegetable man’s house and therefore to think of him. Driving by a few weeks ago, a terrible thought came. Perhaps I should forgive the vegetable man.
I do not want to forgive the vegetable man. The thought of him rankles me. Seeing his gardens are bad enough, the few times I saw him out working, disgust darts were sucked out of my eyes and shot out through the windshield towards him. The vegetable man didn’t have the decency to hurt me, he hurt my son. In case it is not obvious, I am justified.
I spent a lot of the summer hoping for a new kind of blight to strike certain fields of vegetables. For the fall I hoped that pumpkin sales were plummeting. Technically, my family has been informed that we will be in a state of vegetable starvation for a very extended period of time before I would ever deign to buy that man’s produce.
The last day I picked up boy one from his first summer job, he wouldn’t get into the car until he’d picked beans for just a little bit longer so the bucket would be extra full. He carefully bagged up the vegetables I had bought in silence. When we were out of the driveway, he told me in tears that he no longer had a job. Vegetable man had fired him an hour ago with odd comments that didn’t add up, not much warning, and not much dignity.
On forgiving the man, I feel like I am stuck in the Cat and the Hat book. “But could you, would you . . . for the baby in the manger?”
“I could not would not . . . ”
And then it’s all downhill.
Like vegetable man, I have been unmerciful and unkind. I too have failed to see the tenderness of those I dismiss with little or no grace. Sigh.
Dear Vegetable Man,
I forgive you.
May the year ahead see your gardens overflowing.
Truly, may the taste of your beans be the talk of the town.
*****Unfortunately, the vegetable man was not the most irritating person to cross my path this year. Hence I am launching a forgiveness project, directed at my objects of indignation as they come to me. If you want to join me, do. If you don’t feel the urge, that’s ok too. I am getting ready for Christmas. Starting with the vegetable man. Because you have to start somewhere. And because there’s no way to get half the places I need to go without passing his house.