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Location, location, location!!!!  HOLD IT,  don’t think I’m talking real estate here, I’m talking about my vegetable garden.  

So here I am, choosing a spot for my future garden, not any spot, but a prime location spot.  I still wonder, how the heck did I end up in the back of our garage (basically because there it wouldn’t cause me trouble with my husband’s mowing).  Probably you’re wondering what happened to my intentions of  a prime lot.

Well moving on, I began digging, planting, watering and taking good care of my garden. 

As my gardening activity moved forward,  I began getting some regular visits from neighbors and family members, everyone seemed to want to watch my produce grow.  It went to the extent that many of them began planting their own vegetable gardens, and we held a harmless competition along the way. 

My tomatoes were the stars of my garden, or so I thought.

 

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The part that totally sucks is that after investing time and money into my tomato crop, mostly all of it went rotten.  My husband would tell me each time we purchased products for my tomato garden that it would be just plain cheaper to buy some in the market.  

What a tomato Scrooge!!!!! 

At the end, he was right,  I only got to eat ONE cherry tomato.  Which I picked right from the plant and gobbled it away, it has been the most expensive tomato I have ever eaten. 

We never had the opportunity to settle our garden contest because rain began pouring in huge amounts and almost everyone’s crop received significant damage. But, we had a great time in the meanwhile.  

Family relations are a bit like my tomatoes.  Sometimes we put time and effort in building relationships with our family members and we end up with nothing to show for it.  It’s like everybody is to busy with their own lives, to even share a cup of coffee.  In all families (small or big)  there are good and bad things.  The bad things that happen in some of them are not done or said on purpose.  Or at least that’s what I would want to think.  

In Puerto Rico extended family is part of our ethnic background or at least that was the way things were as my parents and my in-laws grew up.  Back in the day, your extended family was part of a community that tried to endure the hard hit of both World Wars, which brought very harsh economic times.  People would help one another to build houses, roads and what ever was needed.   Everyone would lend a helping hand when the other needed it. 

That generation did it’s best to pass those lessons on to their offspring.

A great example that  illustrates this point fantastically  would be the time  when my husband’s uncle mortgaged his debt-free home,  so my father in law could buy a diner when he lost his job.  My in-laws worked their butt off so they could pay the debt as soon as possible and let my husband’s uncle off the hook.  

They didn’t go to a lawyer’s office to sign a promissory note or anything like that.  He just trusted my father in law, they were family.  I really don’t know if I would mortgage my own home (which is debt free) to help my one and only brother or my brother or sister-in-law.  Tough call if you ask me. 

Now, why have our family ties gone from great to rotten tomatoes, I really don’t know.  Maybe family values are no longer what they used to be, or that we as individuals really don’t put the effort in building strong and reliable relationships because we think that we’re not going to need anyone or anything.  

We have to careful because you never know in our changing economy if we’ll go back to the soup lines.

My mom always wanted to make sure I understood how family ties worked and  would point out every time she could, “Remember, they’re family.” Referring to any and everybody that was related to any of my grandparents, and believe me the number was HUGE. 

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My grandfather would say that building communities was about helping each other out, that life was like a wheel, sometimes you were up, and sometimes you were down.  In other words, the wheel of life is dynamic and changing, not only for you,  but for others as well. 

Even if it sounds silly, when we came together in our garden “fiesta”, we felt united.  We had the opportunity to talk, laugh and help each other, and that’s how I think strong communities are built and relationships are restored, and that’s something we need to go back to.  

Remember, “‘Esa es familia, mija.”  (Remember those are family), and family is the foundation we want to build strong and durable relationships around.  Communities that can become a legacy for generations to come.

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