I thought this would be a good story to share with all of you that follow this blog. In June of 2010 I traveled from Chicago to Buffalo, NY to spend Father’s Day weekend with a group of 5 separate grieving dads that had volunteered to participate in the Grieving Dads book. When I set the meetings up I was unaware that it was Father’s Day weekend. It wasn’t until I had everything booked that my wife mentioned it to me. I felt kind of bad so I contacted all of the guys to let them know if they wanted to cancel the weekend that I was ok with that. All of them said they thought it was an appropriate weekend to spend some time together.
The time I spent with these guys was one-on-one which allowed me get to know each one of them on an individual basis. They shared their stories and we laughed and shed tears together; overall it great weekend. I could spend hours writing about my time with each of these guys but this posting is about one dad in particular, Tony Misita.
Tony is a dad that lost his son Randy to suicide in 1987 and now volunteers a lot of his time to speaking about suicide awareness to schools around western New York.
When I arrived at his house, it was Saturday and my last interview for the day. It was about 3 PM when I arrived and Tony met me at the end of his driveway with a big smile. We started to walk towards his garage and his wife had asked if we would like something to drink. Tony looked at me and said “I’m thinking gin and tonic, how about you?” On the rocks with lime sounded pretty refreshing to me on this warm summer day, so I joined him.
His wife brought out our drinks and we spent the next 20-30 minutes walking around his yard before we sat down to talk about our experiences through the death of our children. Tony was pretty proud to show me his two planting areas. One area had tomato plants that he said the seeds have been handed down through generations and can be traced back to Sicily. I thought this was pretty cool that he saves his seeds every year and replants them. I couldn’t bring myself to tell him that I buy my tomato plants every year at the local Home Depot, with mixed results, but I refuse to give up.
Then we turned and walked toward the second planting area which I didn’t recognize the plant. “What is this?” I asked. “Garlic” he said. I told him I had never seen garlic grow before, but there must have been 50 plants in this bed. He said they were pretty easy to grow and that I should try it sometime and we left the conversation at that.
We spent the next 6 hours together having cocktails and telling our stories. Tony was a gracious guest but it came time for me to get back to the hotel because I had an early Father’s Day breakfast meeting at another grieving dads house with him and his family.
I didn’t think too much more about the conversation Tony and I had regarding the garlic until about two months later when a box showed up at my house. When I opened it there were three garlic bulbs with a note that said “Tony’s World Famous Garlic – Eat One and plant the rest.” He had sent me planting instructions along with the bulbs. Last October I planted each garlic clove just like in told me to. In late February of this year I noticed that they were starting to peek through the ground about the same time my winter crocus usually does. I have been watching them grow ever since while trying to be patient.
About two weeks ago it looked as if it was time to check my garlic harvest for the year. I was able to harvest about 8 bulbs. I kept a couple to eat and saved 5 so I can plant more for next year. However, I had a great idea; I thought it would be pretty cool if I could send on a couple of them to another grieving dad that would be willing to put in the time and effort to plant a couple of these bulbs in order to pass them along next year to another grieving dad.
Any of you willing to take on the responsibility of cultivating “Tony’s World Famous Garlic” on behalf of other grieving dads? You must be willing to pass the harvest along next year to another grieving dad in order to continue this tradition. I will send them to the first dad that contacts me.
Do any of you plant gardens (of any kind) to honor your children? If so, tell us about your experiences.