15. Strawberry Fields

15. Strawberry Fields

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters

Strawberry Fields

Doubtless God could have made a better berry (than the strawberry), but doubtless God never did.

~William Allen Butler

It was summer, and my kids and I had been invited to yet another cookout. Guests were asked to bring an appetizer of some kind. I wanted to try something a little different from the usual pasta salad or chips and dip. A friend of mine suggested a recipe for Chocolate Amaretto Strawberries. I thought this sounded like a great summer treat for the adults. I bought a bunch of large strawberries and cored out the middles. Then I dipped them in chocolate, filled them with amaretto liquor, and topped each with a dollop of whipped cream. Too easy!

The strawberries were an enormous hit at the cookout. However, I guess I made too many, or perhaps made them too strong, because some guests were feeling a bit tipsy after eating only three. But no one seemed to mind! I had about ten large strawberries remaining, so I brought them home and placed them in the refrigerator.

The following morning, my dad arrived to watch my three kids while I went to work. If the weather was nice on the days he came over, he would also mow my lawn with the riding mower. I have approximately an acre of land, most of it situated in the backyard. Some of land is a bit marshy toward the back, so the grass grows faster, resembling a field if you let it grow more than a week.

That afternoon, I was working at my desk when I received a phone call. It was my dad imitating Robin Williams from the movie Mrs. Doubtfire.

He yelled into the phone, “HEEELLLLOOOOO!”

I was a little confused by his tone, so I asked, laughing, “What’s going on? Are the kids doing okay?”

He happily replied, “Of course! I just called to ask where those strawberries came from. They were delicious!”

I went blank for a second. I had completely forgotten they were in the fridge.

Finally, I stammered, “Uh, Dad, how many strawberries did you eat?”

He said, “Well, I don’t know, but there’s only two left. They were really good!”

I panicked when I realized what my next question would be.

“Dad! You didn’t give any to the kids, did you?”

He started to laugh again. “Are you kidding me? No, those are all mine! I told you they were delicious!”

Relieved he didn’t accidentally give any to the kids, I began to explain, “Dad, those strawberries are filled with amaretto. Couldn’t you tell by the taste?”

He laughed even harder. Oh, yes, I could tell this guy was feeling pretty good. He had an occasional drink now and then, but nothing like this.

“I thought they tasted sweet. Where did you get them?”

I described how I had made them and forgotten they were in the fridge. He then interrupted me and said bluntly, “Well, I’m heading outside. I want to go mow the lawn.”

Oh, no. “Wait! Dad! You can’t possibly drive the mower now.”

But the more I insisted, the more he brushed me off.

“What? I’m fine! The kids are playing next door, so I’m mowing the lawn.”

Then he hung up the phone! I grabbed my pocketbook and headed for the next train home. I didn’t even realize what I said out loud as I was leaving, “Got to go… Dad’s toast… watching kids… using mower…” I don’t quite remember what I said, but people at work got quite a kick out of it.

When I pulled into the driveway almost two hours later, I noticed my front lawn was freshly cut and neatly done. I walked around back and took count of all three kids on the swing set. So far, so good. I noticed the backyard grass was also cut. It was neatly done to a point, but farther back there were large grassy patches all over the place. It looked as if he had done “crazy eights” with my mower!

I went up the back steps into the house and looked around the living room, kitchen and dining room. Dad was nowhere to be found. I walked down the hall and looked in the kids’ bedrooms. When I entered my son’s room, I found Dad fast asleep on his bed. I walked over to the bed and nudged his shoulder to wake him up. He opened his eyes, yawned and said, “Geez, after cutting the grass, I got so tired. I just wanted to nap.” This was totally the alcohol talking since this man never sits still, let alone takes a nap.

“So, Dad, you mowed the lawn?”

He looked at me in confusion. “What? It’s all done.”

I brought him out back to show him the patches of grass.

“Are you sure you got all of it?” I laughed.

He then let out a loud belly laugh. “Boy, those strawberries were pretty good!”

The story of that day got around quickly to other members in my family. It is now a family tradition that amaretto strawberries are served at any and all family gatherings. As soon as someone walks in with them, someone is sure to yell out, “Dad, your strawberries are here. Get the mower ready!”

~Michele Christian

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