The Forbidden Fruit In The Garden Of Us


The temperature in the hotel room was seventy degrees – a little cool for me, but I had on my most lovely flannel pajamas and winter hat to match, plus, I may have turned up the thermometer a notch or two when my husband, Andy, and my two boys, Danny and Mark, left for the pool.

I hugged my pillow tightly and prayed for sleep to sink in swiftly and before everyone returned from the pool smelling like chlorine.

It had been a long drive caravanning in cars with kids from the Midwest to Virginia, but my in-laws know how to make anything an adventure.

Our arrival in Virginia after thirteen hours of driving though, was bittersweet, and tomorrow would be an emotional day.

So I curled up and snuggled into sleep on my perfectly semi-firm mattress and my softly-suppled sheets, until I heard the “clickety-clack” of the card-key and the jiggle of the door handle.

“Clickety-clack, the card slid back and forth and back and forth.

“Are they fighting over who gets to use the card-key or is it not working?” I wondered.

“Are they all trying to do it at the same time, hand-over-hand, or are the Three Stooges breaking into my hotel room?”

Then it happened.

They burst through the door and fell over the threshold as if they had been racing each other to the finish line.

Then it was on with the show.

In a hushed tone, Danny said: “Dad, I’m hungry.”

“Have an apple,” Andy whispered.

Then more emphatically: “Daaaad, I’m really hungry.”

“Have an apple or a banana,” Andy whispered.

Then, as if it was life and death: “Dad, I’m reallllly, REALLLLLY hung…”

But before Danny could finish his hunger cry or Andy had another chance to show off his saint-like patience, I had a chance to imagine what an exorcism might look like – mine, yet I still decided to pipe in where I shouldn’t have!

I whipped my head around and in a not so saint-like-tone, howled into the dark of the night:

“It’s 11:30! If you’re hungry, eat an apple. If you’re reallllly, REALLLLLY hungry, we got a whole bowl of ’em, so eat an apple – eat the bowl if ya want too, but GO TO BED!”

And be careful what you wish for.

Because that’s what my number one son did.

He ate an apple.

And then he ate a second apple.

And then, he started in on a third apple!

And I thought: “I’ll be damned; he’s gonna eat the whole bowl and I’ll have to change the name of this story to The Boy Who Swallowed A Bowl.”

And with every bite of every apple, the crunching in my head grew louder.

It was so loud, I thought I was eating the apples, but I was just grinding my teeth.

And do you know what Danny did with each apple when he was done?

He shot it through the air in our dark hotel room and like Michael-Air-Jordan, he sank every apple into the trash basket.

Every one of them! “Clunk, Clunk, Clunk!”

But it didn’t end there.

There was a third act, and a fourth apple!

I could barely contain myself.

With clenched teeth, a locked-jaw, and my eye-balls popping out of my head, I gripped my pillow, gritted my teeth, and growled:

“Dannnnnn, you are NOT eating a fourth apple, are you?!

“Noooo, he whimpered.” That’s Mark eating the apple!

The Forbidden Fruit

We laid there, all of us – in the dark; in the deafening silence, breathing, not knowing what to say or do.

I knew I needed to apologize for my rotten behavior and for not putting more emphasis on the quiet, underrated goodness of bananas.

I wanted to laugh at the absurdity, but I felt more like crying.

I was tired.

And sad.

We all were.

We had caravanned to Virginia with Andy’s siblings and their families to attend a memorial service for Andy’s step-dad, Duncan.

Part of Andy’s family for thirty years, he’s been the only Grandpa my boys have ever really known.

And with four beautiful children and two grandsons of his own, Duncan inherited my mother-in-law’s eight children, their significant others, twenty-two grandchildren, and twenty-one great, grandchildren with another one on the way.

He’s a man who deserves all of our best selves because that is who he showed us how to be.

So I prayed a little prayer to Duncan and promised to give him that.

My best self.

“Atta girl,” he whispered to my heart; a phrase he whispered often.

“Thanks, Dunc,” I smiled and whispered back to his. “Thanks for everything.”

How Lucky We Are

Bob began.

In addition to one of Duncan’s daughters, my brother-in-law Bob represented the Vear clan in Duncan’s eulogy the next day.

Not only did Bob’s eloquent remarks and sublime delivery capture Duncan’s kind and generous spirit, they reminded us of who he was as a dad, a step-dad, a husband, grandpa, and friend.

He was a gentleman and a gentle-man.

But the most poignant moment for me came when Bob, who shares with Duncan the distinction of being a Master Gardener, talked about Duncan’s legacy.

In the musical, Hamilton Bob recalled, Lin-Manuel Miranda answers his own question about legacy.

“Legacy is planting seeds in a garden that you never get to see.”

“Duncan, who had immeasurable talents and even more admirable virtues has graduated to become an Ascended Master Gardener,” Bob said, “but the garden he leaves behind for all of us to see is his greatest work of art.”

The Garden of Us

Here’s to being inspired by the fabulous men in our lives.

Men like Duncan.

Men who are sturdy and strong; gentle, respectful, and kind.

Men who believe that character, values, hard work, and reputation still matter.

Men who lead and listen and follow and fail, but continue showing up because giving up is never an option.

Men who learn how to right their wrongs and forgive with their hearts.

Men who love – and men who are even more lovable because they know it’s okay to be vulnerable.

Here’s to planting and growing and living and giving, and toiling and tilling and turning our lives over to the care of something greater than ourselves.

Each other.

We are all connected.

To the Garden of Us.

And to the caring and cherishing of it.


To Duncan, who grew our hearts bigger in his Garden of Goodness.

And to my mother-in-law, Barb, whose unconditional love, which is deeply rooted in the soil of Mother Earth and connected to a world beyond my imagination, continues to connect, protect, and sustain us all.

A Final Act

Barb was able to snuggle with Duncan during the last few hours of his life and then she said:

“I left for a cup of coffee and when I came back, he was gone.”

“Just at the moment when someone says, ‘He is gone,’ other voices take up the glad shout, ‘Here he comes!”

Barb left for a cup of coffee; Duncan heard the voices of angels and left for the Garden of God; a Masterpiece of staggering proportions.

Until we meet again,

* “Love is love is love is love is love.”
















* Quote by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton


Photo Credit: Humor Me With Mo

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22 Responses to “The Forbidden Fruit In The Garden Of Us”

  1. Maria MaganaMarch 21, 2017 at 9:49 pm #

    Loved this. Reminded me of road trips with my kids years ago but what touched my heart was, one says he is gone while other voices joyfully say, Here he comes! I always so enjoy reading your articles! Looking forward to the next one!

    • MO VEARMarch 23, 2017 at 8:43 am #

      Thanks, Maria! So glad to know you’re enjoying! 🙂 mo

  2. GayMarch 21, 2017 at 9:17 am #

    So heart-felt, so true! So glad I knew him! Very well said Mo! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Sue and DanMarch 19, 2017 at 9:51 pm #

    Sending love to you both…what a blessing to all of you.

    • MO VEARMarch 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

      Thanks, Sue! xoxo

  4. Jen RayMarch 19, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

    Love. Love. Love this, Mo…and you!!!

    • MO VEARMarch 20, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

      Back atcha, Jen! xoxo

  5. Bud VearMarch 18, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    What a fine testimony to a special man. Thank you for putting his life in such a beautiful and fitting way.

    • MO VEARMarch 18, 2017 at 11:07 pm #

      Thanks, Bud. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And cheers to you for continuing to be such a wonderful example for so many… mo

  6. JerryMarch 18, 2017 at 10:46 am #

    Loved this! Seemed like two different stories at first but nicely tied together. And of course, I wished I had known Duncan like you all knew him. Best wishes for your hurting loss.

    • MO VEARMarch 18, 2017 at 11:04 pm #

      Aw, thank you Jerry. You would have enjoyed him! 🙂

  7. Nancy WernerMarch 18, 2017 at 10:22 am #

    That was so beautiful Mo. You could not have said it better…..
    Much love (and it was great to see all of you!), Nancy

    • MO VEARMarch 18, 2017 at 11:03 pm #

      Thank you, Nancy. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful man like your dad with all of us. Wonderful to see you and Jeff. Lots of love. mo

  8. Gloria VearMarch 17, 2017 at 6:47 pm #

    Thank you Mo for a beautiful tribute to an awesome man Duncan.
    We were there in spirit. Love all of you. It has been a blessing to be party of this wonderful family. Gloria

    • MO VEARMarch 18, 2017 at 11:02 pm #

      Thanks, Glo! So glad you enjoyed it, and that you had so many wonderful years to enjoy with him too! xoxo

  9. GTMarch 17, 2017 at 5:39 pm #

    A wonderful piece. Wish I had known Duncan.


    • MO VEARMarch 18, 2017 at 11:00 pm #

      Thanks, GT. I wish you’d had a chance to know him too. I imagined many times, how much you would have enjoyed conversing with him on any and every topic. 🙂

  10. AndrewMarch 17, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    Very touching…nicely done

  11. Sherie McgowanMarch 17, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

    Awe…thanks Mo. You captured it.

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