Jess the plumber came and I have a new toy. It doesn’t leak. You turn it a quarter turn to get full volume. It’s ready to take care of my fruit trees.
The original plumber had not only used a substandard part, he had welded it on so that it couldn’t be replaced without having to pay someone to cut the metal pipe and start over; now though, and Jess showed me, all you’ll have to do if/when we need to is just unscrew this and screw on another. Done.
I told him a little about the guy who’d installed the earlier one, trying to explain how we’d come to have such a mess there. The man had also installed not-up-to-code gas and water lines across our roof that had all had to be replaced and should have been caught by the inspector. He’d tripped over and broken another subcontractor’s lamp as its owner watched–okay, things happen–but instead of apologizing, he had defiantly said he’d done no such thing. And he’d stolen our bicycle tools.
Jess grieved, exclaiming, “That’s so sad!”
YES. Yes exactly. We can buy new tools and pipes. He can’t steal his way to feeling good about himself. And I liked Jess on the spot.
He counseled me, “You have to be careful.”
And I thought, and sometimes you have to luck out. Which I did this time.
When he was done he took a moment to marvel over my yard–“all those peaches!”–as well as the other fruit trees. He told me he used to work on a farm, and it was clear he missed it. I pointed to that that that and that one and said, “Peaches for June, July, August, and September.”
He was so happy for us! Me, I was wistful and said, “I wish I had something ripe I could offer you. Lemons?”
He laughed, shrugged, and admitted, “I wouldn’t know what to do with them.”
But he was particularly taken by the Yellow Transparent apple. Look how it had grown back! He told me it had lived by love. He told me I’d loved it.
I hoped I deserved that compliment–I do love it now but honestly, it took me a few years. First I had to know it better, and a huge thank you to my sister for explaining spring apples to me, much less Yellow Transparents, when I’d never heard of them and couldn’t figure out why by fall the thing was always a total loss. It fruits like crazy and its branches are particularly laden this year, to the point I need twice as many clamshells as I have.
And then he told me a little of his own story. He’d been in an accident when he was a kid: he wasn’t supposed to walk again, he wasn’t supposed to talk again. His speech was slightly slurred but I thought, given that history, I’d take slurred, definitely.
And in the long recovery he’d had to go through everything had all come down to love. Love is survival. Love governs everything, every waking moment, it IS the awakening and the everything.
I recognized that. I’ve been at that edge of life, I know… But he’s never lost sight of it. His very speech reminds him, and he is grateful.
And that apple tree–it just so captured it all for him. It made him so happy.
At the last, he motioned to the big dyepot that had been catching the drips. At about 35 pounds, I admitted I’d hurt my back emptying it the night before, which is why I hadn’t moved it more out of his way than I had.
It was full again. (And then some in the night, but I’d done what I could.)
“Here, let me, where would you like it?”
And so he reverently poured that life-giving water in a circle around the base of that tree.
And it wasn’t till afterwards that I saw how much it had meant to him to be able to take care of it as well as he did of me in the time he was here.
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