Yesterday I heard the news that a family friend had died. He was 37. A bit younger than me, someone I grew up with. I haven’t seen him for at least 20 years. My overwhelming memory of him involves turnips. It was his fault, you see, that our entire family ate turnips for what felt like every night for what felt like years.
He would come to our house after school and stay for dinner. His mum asked my mum to serve him up turnips every meal because he needed some vitamin or other (I’m hazy on detail – I was about 11 at the time). Because he ate them, we ate them. The only vegie I hate more today are chokoes, but they deserve a post of their own, so I’ll leave those.
He was a sweet little boy with a mile-wide smile and a streak of cheekiness. As he grew up, he chose a few alternate paths on the journey through life and things didn’t go too well for him.
Now he’s not with us anymore. And even though I haven’t laid eyes on him in forever, I feel the ripples of his absence. The people you grow up with are always the ones you remember best. And they’re the ones who remember the best of you.
I’ll think of him fondly every time I see a turnip. (Note I say ‘see’, not ‘eat’. Won’t be doing that again.)