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Mysterious Ways: The Bag of Tomatoes

This fruit always reminded me of Dad, but I didn't want any after he passed away.

tomatoes in a heart-shaped bowl

I’ve always loved tomatoes. Every year on my birthday, my dad would tell me how my mother had been canning tomatoes right before she went into labor. “That’s the reason you love them so much,” he’d say. At the end of the story, he’d hand me a bag of tomatoes, knotted at the top in a bow. It was our special tradition.

Not this year, though. Just two months before my birthday, Dad passed away. I told my husband that I didn’t even want to see a tomato. Unless they came from Dad, it just wouldn’t be the same. Thankfully, only my husband and kids knew about Dad’s annual birthday gift and what it meant. I could count on them not to send any tomatoes.

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My birthday arrived and I drove myself to school, where I’m a guidance counselor. After a four-hour meeting, I went out for lunch with a friend. It was a good distraction from the sadness I was feeling. On the way back to school, I decided to stop back at my house for a cold drink.

That’s when I saw it. A white grocery bag on my front porch, tied at the top in a bow. My heart skipped a beat and tears came to my eyes. Sure enough, when I opened it, I saw that it was full of tomatoes. I told my family no tomatoes! I thought, angry. If it wasn’t from Dad, it didn’t mean anything.

Later, my daughter called. “Mom, I’m so sorry about the tomatoes,” she said.

“So you’re the one who did that,” I said.

“No, Mom, I didn’t put them there,” she explained. Her husband, Travis, had received a whole heap of tomatoes from his dad that afternoon. “He knew you liked tomatoes, so he thought of sharing them with you. I had no idea what he did until after–he didn’t even know it was your birthday.”

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My daughter apologized again, but I wasn’t angry anymore. Travis didn’t know what the tomatoes meant to me, but Someone did. And he made sure I got my birthday gift, even if my dad couldn’t deliver it himself.

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