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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Checking Your Metaphorical Backseat


I found a quarter and four pennies on my way to the bus stop this morning. Would you believe I picked up all five coins?

You would?

Yeah, there are a lot of people who would’ve left those pennies. I’m fully aware of that, thank you. The thing is, those people would have only 25 cents, whereas I now have 29 cents.

It’s not much in the short term, but talk to me in a couple years.

I’ll be rich. Rich, I tell you!

So! Maybe a light story?

When we were all much younger, my father, the King of Clean and Semi-Lame Jokes, had a hard time expressing affection verbally; so rather than tell you how he felt, he would feed you.

Food is love, yes?

Consider the family dinners in your past: Thanksgivings loaded with pies and gravies and those little home-made mints; Easters with hams and asparagus; late-night silliness with Redi-Whip shots.

I moved out of my parents’ house less than a month after high school graduation, whereupon I graduated to previously unconsidered poverty.

Who moves out with a mattress, a full-length mirror, and a towel? Well, me, for one. Not that it felt that way at first! But within a couple of years, and after the birth of my boy, the need for groceries on a regular basis became apparent.

What? Ask for help? What are you, nuts?

Tuesdays and Thursdays were meatless days, and I had a vegetable garden – The Boy learned early to pick green beans, to eat tomatoes warm while still standing next to the plants, to eat peas whole and in the pod. Still, there was never enough food.

My father caught on to the fact that there could be more in the fridge at my house. Perhaps because my head was always in theirs whenever I dropped in.

It’s just a hunch.

And so it came to be that I started to “find” things in my car following these visits.

The first time, I found a twenty crammed into the crease of the passenger seat.

After that, there were mysterious grocery bags in my backseat. Potatoes, onions, jars of marinated artichoke hearts, sticks of pepperoni, and other various and sundry items appeared without comment.

I suspected my father; and it was proven when I found in a grocery bag in the backseat – mid-July, mind you! – a stick of butter atop a roll of toilet paper.

There’s nothing really to say about that, but I did have the softest bottom for a while…

This went on for almost two years. We have never discussed this, although I did once leave a note taped to his windshield.

“I discover the weirdest things in my car.”

Some things are easy to find.

Twenty-nine cents in the street springs to mind.

And some things are found only upon reflection.

Thanks, Dad.

46 comments:

esbboston said...

"... softest bottom ..." - hahahahahahaha

Susan Williams said...

Oh, gosh, Pearl.
This is the most beautiful post!
I have a friend who has been struggling for days over the fact that her son is over 14 hours away by car, and so leaving butter enhanced toilet paper is harder to do.
But his pride is fierce, in the way that only a young guy in his early 20's suffering from testosterone-poisoning/must-make-it-on-my-own-itis can be.
I'm going to share this with her.
Love you, and love your old man.
And for the record? Food IS love.

Paula Wooters said...

I love that your dad kept your bottom so soft! My dad has been leaving the occasional gift in my mailbox recently... he always seems to know when I need it the most. Gotta love the silent types!

esbboston said...

I love to give my children things, too. Nice story. It reminded me of my grandfather insisting on filling our family car with gasoline when we visited his farm in South Dakota. I "visit" there every once in a while by Google Earth. HopefuLLy for real veRy soon ...

Raymond Alexander Kukkee said...

This is a wonderful post, Pearl. You have a supportive dad. Keep picking up the pennies, they do add up...

Peg said...

I love this. My dad used to put elbow noodles and tomato soup in my cabinet when he'd sneak in to put cheese and eggs in my fridge. He never admitted to it - ever. And my mom would mail vitamins to me every three months. She wouldn't talk to me but she mailed vitamins to me. It made me love her more. And ultimately allowed us to reconcile later. It's hard to stay mad at someone who mails you vitamins.

ICL,
Peg

joeh said...

4 days of good luck!

lime said...

love is often very practical, isn't it? even if a little odd. ;)

Linda said...

My dad has passed away now but this is the type of thing he would do. In fact when I was hundreds of miles away from him in graduate school he was known to send me "Sunday dinner" money. He figured since he couldn't take me out to dinner after church anymore he would just send me a $20 bill once in a while. I never used it to go out to dinner. You know how much Top Ramen you could buy for $20?

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

When we were first married my Dad would empty the vegetable garden into our car before we left for home.. Mom would occasionally mention that the beans hadn't done much that year and Dad would go "shhh". We ate beans till they came out of ears....can't stand them any more.

Shea Goff said...

I love all your stories but felt inclined to shout out a little extra love on this one. Really nice.

jenny_o said...

Beautiful, Pearl. Realizing how much our parents loved us and how they showed their love can be one of the best things about getting older.

Chloe said...

I'm Susan's friend and I wish I could find a way to leave butter in the damned kid's car. It is hard to watch your kids struggle and know that you instilled a pride in them that is both good, but makes their lives so much harder.

Thankfully, my husband heard my heart and got in the car and drove 14 hours to go see said son and take him some butter. Well, not really butter, but metaphorical butter.

Joanne Noragon said...

Mom kept track of all the money in our house, for which dad was grateful. She gave him his "allowance" every week, even when he was old and frail and could not drive. I would come to visit and when it was time to leave dad would insist on giving me gas money. The first time I told him I didn't need it and on the way out to the back door mom whispered "You should take it; he has no place to spend his money." I turned back, graciously changed my mind and accepted the $10. I gave it to my friend at work the next day; she was struggling going to school and raising a son. Dad helped more than he knew.

fishducky said...

How wonderful to have a "food fairy" who loves you!

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

"And some things are found only upon reflection."

How true, and how lovely.

Stephen Hayes said...

How sweet. But the government really should stop coining pennies. They don't buy anything and they cost the government nearly two cents to make one penny. Think of the billions of dollars that could be saved if we stopped making pennies.

Linda O'Connell said...

And I'll bet you've since buttered your boy with care packages, too. Nice reflection.

Geo. said...

Dads are great. There should be like a national "Father Day" or something. But whenever I mentioned the idea to my kids they'd go, "Shhh. He doesn't know." Great post, Pearl.

Vapid Vixen said...

I think my Dad took the same "How to show your children you love them" course.

This post honestly just made me cry. In a good way.

Sharon Greenthal said...

How lucky you are to have a dad like that - and those surprise gifts must have always made you feel so loved. Great post!

Buttons said...

Oh I had the exact same Dad lucky aren't we.
I would have picked up those pennies too and I still do and I am very rich now. OK that may be a little wishful dreaming going on but I do have toilet paper and groceries in my frig. My Dad would be so proud because now I do the same for my kids the circle keeps going round and round:) B

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Nothin' says loving' like something from the oven, and the refrigerator, and the pantry. My daughter never leaves my house without some "dogie bags". It makes me happy to still be able to help her out.

Eva Gallant said...

My parents would come to visit in the first year of my first marriage with food in hand; Mom would bring a pot roast with all the fixings, or maybe a chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy. Those visits were appreciated, as my husband was still in college and I was a first year teacher. Some weeks we ate peanut butter and marshmallow sandwiches 3 or 4 days in a row!

The Elephant's Child said...

Oh yes, I remember saving up for shampoo and debating whether it was better to have electricity or food. My family were too far away for care packages, but I loved your tale of love. And yes, food is decidedly love.

Kana said...

I thought this was just my boyfriend's family...we find Costco-boxes of random groceries they think we need in our diet...the money-stuffed-carseat is new and awesome.

klahanie said...

I wonder with the vast improvement in margarine, if it would have a similar effect.
With that, I shall now go find my "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!" - and experiment.
My comment has reached the bottom....

trustmaggie said...

What a wonderful story :)
Also, I pick up pretty much every penny I see. I'm pretty heart broken about the fact that pennies will be no more someday soon :(

Gigi said...

This post made me tear up and smile at the same time. I also feel an incredible urge to mail my son butter-soaked toilet paper.....

Hilary said...

What a tender memory.. and I don't mean your soft bottom.

Sagewoman said...

Reminded me of when Hoody was little and my folks used to make a whopping huge Sunday dinner - which was sent home with us because they didn't like leftovers. Or would buy all of Megan's clothes for school because they just wanted to and get over it. Now I live with someone who squeezes every dime til it cries and am trying to figure out how to live with it or get on without her. Sigh - how could our basic values have been so different? Sorry - you aren't Ann Landers but this column got me thinking.

Juli said...

When I first bought the house things were really tight. My sister broke into my house and filled the floor of my kitchen with bags of groceries.

I have never forgotten that.

Tempo said...

:-)

Diane said...

See four pennies. Pick them up . . . you know the rest. Have I mentioned that I love your dad! He reminds me so much of mine. Love stuffed in a paper sack in the back seat. Does it get any sweeter than that?

River said...

I read somewhere that Fate drops those small coins in your path for a reason. I frequently find, and pick up, five cent pieces. apparently, if you ignore the offerings completely, fate decrees that you have enough money and withholds all lottery luck from you. For this reason alone I continue to pick up every coin that comes my way, but it would seem Fate is too busy dropping pennies in your path to notice....hmpf!
I love your Dad.

mary i said...

Pennies from heaven. Pearl i read you every day and you are the change that i pick up and am so grateful for. Yes food is LOVE. :)

jabblog said...

What a lovely Dad - and a fine way to avoid any embarrassment:-)

Roshni AaMom said...

The sweetest post ever! What a wonderful dad you have!

Sextant said...

Your story is why I have never forgiven my child. Two ultra sounds said that we had a daughter. I thought oh great, I will have a little girl to spoil and love and to beat up teenage boys over and we will just be the closest thing on earth and yeah I could see me leaving things in her car, killing husbands that abused her, and just being in love love love with daddy's little girl, and no guilt trips over not wanting to play catch, I hate sports. Well wouldn't you know the little bastard grew a stinger in the last quarter of my wife's pregnancy and has been robbing me blind ever since.

Sextant said...

@ Susan Williams

Testosterone poisoning! I love it, and I remember it. Being so soaked with the damn stuff that I couldn't think of anything but ... well you know.

Thankfully those levels decrease with age. I think the dose I had in me when I was 20 would kill me now.

Lola Rouge ...the mom said...

My dad who had a spare key to my apartment would sneak in while I was at work with diapers, wipes, honey buns, popcorn and a microwave! Mom smuggled in healthy additions too. Dads are great, as is this post. I needed to check my backseat I found some great stuff this afternoon. Thanks Pearlie :-)

Elsie said...

My dad was the same way, Pearl. I moved out when I was 17, full of confidence and low on funds. He would happen upon some pots and pan (in an unopened box, dad?) or "find" a great deal on college clothes and pick them up without a word. Always making sure to leave my pride intact.

Pat Tillett said...

What a beautiful and happy story Pearl. I know I just used one of granny's little sayings in post after this one (yes, I read backwards), but she also had one for found coins. Anyway, granny used to say that it's NOT good luck to find a penny, it's bad luck to find one and NOT pick it up. She then said something about it's like refusing a gift.

TexWisGirl said...

i had started to read this the other day, but didn't get to finish. glad i came back today (compliments of hilary's POTW). well-deserved... :)

Murr Brewster said...

There is nothing I don't love to pieces about this post, although the juxtaposition of butter and toilet paper sent me on a different trip down memory lane. Altogether.

Out on the prairie said...

A friends mom always saved my day by saying I could come when I needed a meal and had some great ideas to share. It was fun who showed up to her Sunday table.