Thursday, October 08, 2009

Methodist tomatoes

Update on the front work churchyard gardens- The tomatoes and peppers have moved on to another part of their life cycle, and the broccoli plants look comfortable as they are getting their roots settled in.

A couple of weeks ago, an assistant person came in determined not to leave empty handed. I know this sounds harsh, but this particular visitor is a regular. He comes so often that he can now follow his own worn footpath in the lobby carpet from the front door to the chair. He is cheerful and desperate at the same time. Sometimes he looks 76 and other times he looks 40 so I have no idea what his true age is, and the day of copying his license has long since passed.

When he is sober and lucid, I try to figure out what of his needs we can help with but more often than not, he comes in reeking of smoke and old beer. I sit down with him and listen for a while before helping him out the door. He is most interesting and full of stories.

Billy Ray is famous in some parts around I-95 where he prayed with Billy Graham as the Reverend came through a truck stop where Billy Ray just happened to be resting. Billy Ray and Billy Graham had many things in common you know. They both had the same name, and frequented the same truck stop to pray. Those were the good days.

He’s had liver disease so bad his liver has been replaced 2 times and nearly 3 but they took his gallbladder instead and snatched his appendix while they were shopping around in there. There, being his gut. He’s had open heart surgery several times “before open heart was even known around here”.

On this particular day, Billy Ray was about to have yet another surgery. Bypass, even though he’s had more bypasses than the beltline in town. His doctor told him to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and to walk 7 blocks and rest. Just like that. 7 blocks and rest. 7 blocks and rest. I found it interesting that we were on the “rest” end of that exercise regime. He reminded me that everythin’ happens fer a reason. I don’t doubt it, well, not on that day.

I told Billy, as I had on many other occasions, where the food pantry was- a couple of miles away, and then he asked for a gas card.
I reminded him of his doctor’s strict orders to walk 7 and rest. He didn’t look too thrilled at the reminder.

I asked him if he liked tomatoes and he brightened right up.
“Well, come on, then, with me.” And I headed out the front door.
He followed , but with caution and a little bit of concern- or it seemed so to me.

When we got outside, I climbed over the flowers and felt around the veggie plants and came up with 4 tomatoes and a bell pepper. He looked as he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
I stood up. “There! Now, here, hold your hands together like a bowl, like this.”
He did.
I filled his hands with the veggies. “ You can’t get any fresher than that, can you?” I beamed.
“ Uh, no I guess not.”
“ Okay, now, there you go. Probably ought to get back to your walking and resting. You know what your doctor said.”
He walked across the grass and started along the sidewalk.

“Hey Billy Ray! That’s the best tomato you’ll ever eat! It’s a Methodist mater!”

He held up his hands –of- plenty and kept walking.

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