This fall I am turning 50, and much has happened over the past few years leading up to my mid-century milestone. I have had a gift that saved my life, major personal losses, close calls, and more recently, like everyone, a lot of isolation. Career-wise I am completely stalled. I have spent my whole adult life performing, along with some teaching. Yet I can no longer do either. I have ideas galore for projects and direction, but find it impossible to choose.
Focusing on a garden has helped me metaphorically analyze what I’ve been going through. Late March I started seedlings from last year’s seeds. My favourite being tomatoes, I planted tons of seeds in egg cartons thinking a few would take. To my surprise they all came up, quickly growing strong and needing more room. In early spring the weather was so nice, I took them outside, and transplanted them into different pots. The following days they were not happy at all. By late spring, they looked terrible. I could barely look at them without it making me feel depressingly defeated.
Around the same time, my father who had suffered a major heart attack with relatively slims odds, followed by a second leg amputation, below, then above the knee, was finally on his way home after 10 weeks in hospital. Being immune suppressed and with Covid restrictions, I was unable to visit him or be there for my mother. It was months of worry, being scared and sad that my parents were having to go through this horror. They were facing the challenges of his living with no legs at almost 80. It was devastating to not be there for them. My tomato plants seemed to enhance my feeling of uselessness with their scrawny presence.
In June, unsure I had any viable tomato plants and feeling horribly guilty that I was absent for my parents (beyond calling them daily with plant updates), I decided to buy some plants at La Ferme Verte. I planted the strongest plants in the best spots. Being hopeful, I planted my many degenerate plants everywhere. As of mid July, all of my tomato plants are thriving.
I even found tomato plants growing under the tomato plants. Last year tomatoes reseeded themselves! I am forcing myself to take some little plants out, not easy. Kind of like all my ideas for projects… I have to choose. Best of all, I can visit my incredible parents. On our second visit my dad said he had something for me. Amazed at how he was getting around, I followed him into the garage and he said; “These are for you.” He had built some stands to hold up my tomatoes. I cannot describe how happy this made me feel. So many lessons about never giving up.
Husband Wayne has been incredibly supportive, has also been creating a tap dance for us with a song he’s wanted to use for years. How do I want celebrate my 50th? With a new tap dance that I can share with family, friends, and our community. Please do not throw any tomatoes!