The waxy rock of a root vegetable stared at me from the red enamel bowl beyond the sink. I thought of Elaine and the episode of Kung Fu Eamon and I had just watched, that same 70’s tv show starring Michael Cane that I enjoyed as a kid.
In a previous life…
I was someone else’s wife. It was a miserable time and I sort of existed. Most of the time, I was the only one working and that meant many jobs. I waitressed and housecleaned and was fortunate to have a job with a woman named Elaine for a while as her gal Friday.
Elaine and Bill were economics professors at Johns Hopkins University. And a cleaning flier I dropped off at her house turned into a regular odd jobs job. She pitied me I suppose. I did everything from strip and polyurethane her chairs to doing her laundry to cooking her dinners and the cleaning as well. Sometimes she asked me to make lentils and rice, which I always tended to over-salt. And sometimes she wanted a mashed rutabaga and potato combo. I have never considered making this for myself until the root vegetable gratin for Christmas included rutabaga and then I decided I didn’t hate rutabagas. They’re sorta sweet and quirky.
Paying It Forward
The Kung Fu episode we watched was about paying it forward. If someone helps you, you must attempt to help ten more people during your life. We calculated the exponential potential for happiness. That rutabaga reminded me of Elaine’s help for me. Everyone’s soul benefits from escaping themselves and being of help to others. If my children get the most of me, I want to replenish my soul-fullness for them. In the spirit of altruism, I have designed decorations for local charity events, written copy when a writer was needed, and am about to art a rocking chair for the Humane Society.
I support writers who have provided something I’m inspired by showing up and happily commenting. I want them to know what they gave to the world made a difference to me. I hope people will do the same for me because it makes me feel good. And I have recently discovered, I am very much still in need of the help I thought I was only allowed to give and not ask for. I need to make and receive those payments equally. Allowing people to give to you is also a gift to them.
That rutabaga has become a symbol for giving and asking and making wonders happen. My rutabaga in the red bowl was used to spark a quick pastel drawing for a creative project. In 20 minutes, I had proven my art groove hadn’t gone anywhere after all. I then peeled it, chopped it up, cooked it a little longer than the potatoes, and mashed it with a lot of butter. The creamy flesh turned a blush color and was so sweet and yummy, Again, I wondered why I had never considered eating the mashed rutabaga and potatoes I used to make for Elaine. Rutabaga, the resilient vegetable, turns out to be sweet and quirky just like me.