My Mother and Richard Blanco’s, Picking Produce

way back when

That’s me to mom’s left, a hundred years ago. I don’t know these other people. Oh yeah, there is Dad on her right!

I lost my mother when I was 19. I had run away from home for a year or so in my teens. My father and I did not get along, you could say, but that’s a very different story now, and not the story for today. I came back, fortunately before mom’s cancer returned. So I spent a lot of time by her bedside before she left. I was never quite able to let her go, not until years later.

Anyway, I have never felt like an orphan of any sort. I think she did her best to teach me everything she could before she left. I have always felt kind of lucky. I’m not kidding myself with the power of positive thinking here; I knew I was fortunate to have the relationship with Mom that I did. Some people don’t have that and let’s not fool ourselves, some mothers can be as awful as the stereotypical deadbeat dad. So yes, lucky, blessed, whatever you want to call it, I was.

I remember going to the A&P Market with my mother when I was quite young. They had those coffee grinders at the end of the aisles, and I loved that smell of fresh roasted coffee. My brother Dennis was a produce manager there, as I recall and my uncle Jim too, though maybe that was a different store. But I remember mom there, picking through oranges and apples, and while she wasn’t remembering Cuba or some far off homeland the way Mrs. Blanco was in this poem, I know she was remembering something, her own childhood perhaps.

Blanco mentions Macintosh apples, and those were mother’s favorite. But maybe it was because they were cheaper. She had a large clan to feed, as you can see in that ancient photo above. I tend to go for Granny Smiths because I like that tartness. My youngest son recently said that whoever named Red Delicious apples had probably never tasted them. I wonder what sort of produce you might remember your own mother picking or purchasing. What meaning does that memory have for you? Care to share in the comments?

For whatever reason this poem by Richard Blanco always reminds me of her, and what I wish I could say. Please be sure to listen to the audio as well. Blanco does a beautiful reading of this. Happy Mother’s Day.

The entire text of the poem can be found by clicking right here on Richard Blanco’s site. Below I’ll share the SoundCloud file because I think his reading of this is just beautiful.

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9 thoughts on “My Mother and Richard Blanco’s, Picking Produce

  1. Thank you for sharing your family memories and the beautiful poem. I always enjoy your post. I remember blackberry picking with an old jam ja,r the jam jar was also used for Bluebell picking. We would giggle at each others purple tongues I have written poems on both subjects, In my book of poems “Butterfly Kisses and a Bee Sting Mind”

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  2. Reading your thoughts on shopping at the A&P Market with your mom took me way, way back to the days when I did the same with my mom. The old A&P was on Market Street in Sunbury, PA. I remember the wooden plank floor. The sweet smell of produce and fruit. The lighting was not the greatest back then, and the store seemed a little gloomy. My brother and I used to poke at the clams when their shells were partially open, daring them to “bite” us. Mom would yell, telling us to “leave them alone.” I think it’s really cool that the self-service grocery store was invented by Weis Markets in Sunbury. Before then, you would hand your list to the grocer, who would pull your order for you. People balked at self-service in the beginning until they realized they would be able to save 25% on their grocery bill. Today, especially in the City, you can order your groceries online. The times they are a changin’.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t know Weis invented that! Wow. I have a poem called “Stray,” in which an old man told me about those old days when his mother made a list and the grocer filled the sack, while he sat there reading comic books from the rack. 🙂 I’m glad my memories sparked some good ones for you too.

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