All posts filed under: Relationships

Peggy

When I moved in with Peggy for almost a year in 2009, she was 88 years old. This past January, Peggy turned 100. I haven’t seen her since 2013 or 2014, but we’ve miraculously stayed in touch over the phone despite her hopping states and retirement communities several times. We talk once or twice a year, usually by accident. I’ll be scrolling through my phone and will stumble upon Peggy’s number. I just hit dial whenever that happens, taking it as a sign to check in. Or she’ll just randomly call. Nobody else from Plantation, Florida calls me, so I answer. Sometime’s she’ll ask, “Now who am I talking to?” Many great conversations have started that way. What I love about Peggy and her whole her generation is that they answer the call. They give human voices primacy over all other forms of communication. I talked to Peggy a few days ago and her memory is slipping. Each time we connect, I’m certain it’s going to be our last conversation. And maybe I’m right. But …

A Beautiful Harvest

I caught up with Louie the peach farmer last week and we talked about the troubling water situation in California. Louie also grows almonds, a mainstay in our state, but also one of our most water-consuming crops. Louie is no stranger to this reality, but it’s tough to transition away from a crop you’ve been working with your whole life. Always looking to the bright side, Louie shared some good news — he was able to buy the water allotment from one of his neighbors who doesn’t use his acreage for agriculture. With the gift of his gallons, Louie was able to have a bountiful fruit harvest. Our conversation hopped to the farm laborers who made it all happen. Louie’s operation is smaller than the farms that typically make the news. He is not the guy getting interviewed by reporters on immigration and farm labor management. Some folks on his crew have been with him for decades and Louie pays them an above market wage. According to Louie, giving people dignity is just good business. …

The Wild Alone

Louie Boer is a college chum of my father’s, a peach farmer, and somewhat of a mythical figure. I remember him visiting the house when I was a kid, driving down from Modesto in his ginormous truck, wearing a thick lined windbreaker and work boots. He is a big guy – towering, Dutch, and agricultural. Louie is the kind of guy you look at and think, “Your mom fed you well growing up.” As gentle as he is big, Louie is a rugged but soft-spoken intellectual. I remember sitting at the dinner table listening to him and my dad talk about the good old days, fishing up the Central Coast, reading, and just being free outdoors. They talked about life, God, and family while my mom served Louie Indian food – puffed up rotis, saut√©ed vegetables, and my dad’s chicken curry. About a month ago, Louie got COVID, and then a couple of weeks ago, he disappeared. My father grew desolate trying to reach him, and every day he would talk to some friend or …