Grief can be a tricky emotion to navigate, but for many of us the experience is very much like the waves on the sea. To begin with those waves are like a tsunami, hitting us unexpectedly with a force that we can’t control and can’t escape however hard we try, but as time passes they become a little less powerful and we become more adept at surfing the waves than being knocked down by them. Since my mum passed away it has taken me a good year to get to a place where I’m aware that the gaps between the waves are getting wider, and I can enjoy the moments of still clear water before I have to jump the next one or just let it wash over me.
A few weeks ago I bought a tomato plant. I didn’t think anything of it as I was choosing it, or paying for it, or taking it to the car, but as me and my tomato plant began the journey home a wave hit. The sweet aroma of tomatoes suddenly found its way to my olfactory nerves and there it was the ‘Ivy wave’ forceful enough to create a need to pull over and be still as I let the wave pass. My mum wasn’t one for perfumes but for as long as I can remember she always grew tomatoes. One day in the home when she was feeling particularly low she said “I don’t even have any tomatoes to water” well that was my cue, off I went to the garden centre and by the evening she had 2 tomato plants growing on her window sill. It didn’t take much to put a smile on a sad face and the standing joke in the home was that she would soon be selling tomatoes on a stall outside her room. Had she lived to see the first tomato that wouldn’t have surprised me.
A couple of days ago I discovered the first shiny red jewel hanging amongst the green leaves of my tomato plant and picking it with pride I popped it into my mouth, how could I not be filled with thoughts of my mum. When I was a little girl she used to cut them up into little pieces and sprinkle sugar on them which I’m sure would be frowned on now but It certainly tasted good. As i crunched down on my first home-grown tomato my mouth was filled with the fresh sweet taste of the little red fruit and my mind was filled with fresh sweet memories.
I may not be reminded of my mum as I go past the perfume counter in boots and get a waft of ‘eau de something’, but I think as I follow in my mums footsteps and become the next generation of tomato growers that I will remember my mum for the smell of ‘Parfum de tomate’ .