The ripening of memory

It’s interesting the twists and turns our mind can take when we let thoughts flow and meander where they will.

While running the other day, I passed an olive tree whose branches were heavy with soft green oval fruit. I have probably passed this olive tree dozens of times over the years, as it’s less than a quarter mile from my house. But I never noticed the fruit on it before, or really paid it any attention at all.

Running on, my mind drifted to thoughts of home-cured olives (food is often on my mind). Home-cured olives have a softer texture than commercially processed ones, and their flavor is more subtle.

Then I remembered my first experience (only experience, really) with home-cured olives – Albert Diaz made them. He was the grandfather of my high school best friend.

Albert was a small, elderly man who didn’t speak a lot of English, as I recall. I met him a few times when Melinda and her mom would take me with them as they drove to Goshen to visit him.  The four of us would go for lunch to the Mexican buffet, Ole Frijole, in Visalia. I amused him with how much I would eat – he called me the girl with the hollow leg, and he would laugh!

He would send home with them jars of olives he had cured. These were one of my favorite snacks at their house.

I texted my Melinda, my friend, and told her I miss her grandpa’s olives.

“Wow, that’s cool that you remembered!”

The thing is, I hadn’t – until that morning. I hadn’t thought of Albert Diaz in years, maybe decades.

But memories run deep, and sometimes they come back up when we least expect them.

Our experiences throughout our entire lives shape who we are on any given day.

For the several years that we were close, Melinda’s family was very much an extension of my family. Transplanted to Fresno from Ohio, my own grandfathers were thousands of miles away. Her older brothers were the older brothers I never had. And while my own mother is still very much alive and part of my life, Melinda’s mom was one of many mothers who have enriched my life.

In our everyday interactions, we never know how lasting an impression the smallest thing we say or do might have on those with whom we share them. Undoubtedly, our reach is far beyond what we might imagine.


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