This is all I have left of my grand-great uncle, Bishop Candid Norman Rowbury. He was a bishop, but with a heart of gold. (Though I’d always thought he was a better piano player than he was a bishop.) His will was so incredibly specific: it divided his estate into pieces and donated those pieces to different charities.
He did hereby leave his Studebaker to Lorraine Daley-Kline (a real charity case). His fixtures, false teeth, adjustable tools, winterwear, and soaps went to Lottery Winners of North America. The legs of all his chairs went to the Royale Society of Seaman. But for me, he left his most prized of all possessions (and he was a Bishop, so that’s saying a lot.) He bequeathed unto me these tomatoes. Correction: He bequeathed unto me these heirloom tomatoes.
These heirloom tomatoes have been in my family for twelve generations. His forefather, Mackenzie Wallenbach Brinkley Rowbury purchased these tomatoes at the Chimineroo farmer’s market in the late 1700’s. Legend has it, Mackenzie was drinking a macchiato that cost the price of a full-day’s meal out of a golden goblet, when his eye struck upon the most amazing tomatoes in all the land. More than just serendipity, this was destiny’s child knocking right on Mackenzie Rowbury’s door.
You see, he’d been planning for sometime to “finally stop eating out so much and use my galley kitchen for more than just Chinese takeout.” The tomatoes cost him nineteen hundred guilders each, as well as his eldest daughter. This was a price Mackenzie Rowbury was willing to pay as hitherto, he’d been unsuccessful with dozens of gazpacho attempts.
Sadly, Mackenzie Rowbury was lanced by a neighboring nobleman during a dispute over compost (how many lives will be lost?!) . He left a legacy behind and that legacy is carried with the torch of these heirloom tomatoes. Now, every night I pick them up and let them fall through my fingers like doubloons or loonies or toonies. I sleep in them like Scrooge McDuck. My very own heirloom tomatoes. I hope one day I will make the world’s most expensive salsa and feed it to the starving children of Cabo San Lucas.