My mum used to grow tomatoes in the back garden. Cherry, yellow cherry, roma, heirloom varieties, the little pear-shaped ones, big mozzarella-and-olive-oil tomatoes. Tomatoes that we'd eat by the handful while ostensibly picking them, and ones that would go rotten on the vine, or be eaten through by the birds. From the end of July until October, my family had tomatoes, the best tomatoes I've ever had, right out our back door.
My mum put a huge amount of effort into those tomatoes, and everything in the garden. To my great shame, I did very little to help her, and when I did it was reluctantly and with a lot of whinging. I suppose that is like most of the other tasks around the house growing up. The tomatoes are a small symbol of the work that my mother did all or the majority of, and which the whole family benefited from. She tilled, weeded, planted, mulched, caged, and raised them every year from seeds to massive plants up to 6 feet high.
I loved having friends round when the tomatoes were ripe, I loved showing off what my mum had done, even as I had barely assisted. In my extended family we joke that my mum complains a lot, but compared to what she does for us and how little we do in return, she has more than a right to. When I return home I'm going to get stuck into the garden weeding, watering, and doing what needs doing. It's long past time for me to help out. And yes, I am a man-child, but now I'm trying to grow up.