There is nothing like tomatoes from your own garden. Firm to the touch, a mishmash of shapes, sizes and colour, an aroma that is summer and a taste that is divine. I used the last of my stash from the freezer to make pasta sauce last week, sweet and intense, rich and red.
My father's veggie garden produces an abundance in summer, we freeze and bottle the ripe, red fruit to last the year through. There will be no abundance this summer, my father is no longer able to tend a veggie garden. For the first time that I can remember there will be no tomatoes and basil in his garden, in fact there will nothing other than the parsley which has self sown during the year. He can no longer dig and plant, water and tend, he can no longer bend down or potter around. His garden will be barren and bare, empty of green and life. It is an ending, this garden with no tomatoes, a symbol of the beginning of the end. Once it was a green garden of living things; productive, inventive, creative, sustaining and now it is brown bare earth covered with yellow mulch and seeding parsley clinging to life near the concrete edge. His own life mirrors that of his garden, green to brown and yellow, life leeching away. And yet there is some life still, that parsley which stubbornly persists and my father who maintains hope. They will both stay a while longer in the place that is home, until my father goes into respite care in a few weeks and at some point permanent care thereafter. He will move on to what comes next and the garden will be cared for by another. Endings and beginnings.
And when I had used the last of my tomatoes for my pasta sauce, I came home one day to find a gift from my mother, the first of tomatoes from her garden. Last and first, endings and beginnings, the story of renewal that is hope.