Friday, August 15, 2008

A very special peach

See that peach? Nothing special, just a regular peach, right? A little on the fuzzy side...slightly bruised...but yet ripe and ready to be enjoyed.

That peach came off a tree in my backyard. Off a tree that we planted in the ground when we moved in in 1995. It was nothing more than a 2 foot high weed looking plant at that point. I was skeptical of the whole thing...thinking, it will never grow into a tree, let alone a peach tree? It couldn't possibly bear fruit!

I'm sure some of you reading this think...what's the big deal??...lots of people have trees in their backyard that bear fruit.

My peach trees (there's actually 2 of them, one on each side of my BBQ) came to me in a very unique way. Anthony's dad gave them to us when we bought this house.
Anthony's dad was a NYC cab driver who owned his own cab and made a living that most would envy. He worked 20 hour days, but it was his life and it made him proud. In the late 1980s he started having problems with his legs in the sense that he lost their strength and eventually lost feeling in his legs and was confined to a wheelchair for the last few years of his life. He was never diagnosed with anything other than a degenerative disease of the spine which removed circulation and strength and feeling from his legs.
I only knew him for 5 years, as he passed very suddenly from complications from pneumonia in January 1997, 3 months before Matthew was born. To say that his passing has left a void in my life, Anthony's life and that of our children he never saw is an understatement.
Biagio Fasciano was very special to me. We bonded from the moment we met, and let me tell you, his self-created language of broken Brooklyn English, mixed in with proper and dialect versions of Italian was no small feat to accomplish. He said some of the funniest things I ever heard, and he left an impression on everyone he met.
He was not happy to be in a wheelchair...someone who spent his days and nights driving the streets of the 5 boroughs of NYC, to someone who couldn't easily leave his home. He took up gardening and he and my mother in law had THE most impressive garden on their block. Now remember, it's Brooklyn, so it's 90% cement in the front yard, with a little patch of what's supposed to be grass. Biagio planted dozens upon dozens of vegetables, herbs, was amazing. We were always eating things from his garden.
1980s flashback...remember when casinos would give out those plastic buckets for coins before they started handing out vouchers? My in laws must have had 3 dozen of them laying about their yard, they'd plant herbs, single vegetable plants, anything they could in there.
That's how my peach trees came to be. Biagio ate a peach one day, took the pit and planted it in a casino bucket and watched it grow. Then he planted another, same way. The first time we brought him to our house, he brought them with him and he said..."You put this in the yard and someday you get peach! "
Biagio, you would have eaten them all in one sitting, the way your son does...who by the way is semi-allergic to the skin...he peels them and he eats them (and boy are they delicious!) 4-5 at a time...and like me, I know he thinks of his dad every bite he takes...the way I think of Biagio everytime I look out into my backyard at these 2 trees, but especially this time of year, and especially in the last few years where the peaches have been edible.
It's sort of like a circle of life thing...Biagio planted the trees, we eat the peaches and keep his memory alive.

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