The Family Tree

My dad planted two trees when I was about 4 years old, a peach and an avocado.  My favorite tree was the peach tree because as a kid, it was one fruit that I couldn’t get enough of.  His favorite was the avocado tree.  Over the years, a decision had to be made – which tree to keep as they grew bigger.  There wasn’t room for both trees in the backyard, so the avocado tree won and there went my supply of peaches.

Here’s a pic of the avocado tree on the left and the peach tree on the right.

You should know that I was introduced to the avocado in a strange way.  My dad liked to mash it up, sprinkle sugar on it and pour milk over it. Being Filipino, he called this his merienda. No one in the family was a fan of this dish so it always served a party of one.  Today I like avocados, but not even sugar could get me to eat them as a kid!

Me when I was about 5 years old.

It dawned on me that the avocado tree has truly grown up with the family and is like a second sibling to me.  We have various pictures with the tree and of the tree.  It’s been a backdrop for birthday parties, bbqs and backyard shenanigans.  I’m sure the tree would love to tell the story of when my brother and I launched his Hot Wheel cars off of the roof.  (It was my brother’s idea but I was a great cheerleader).

Avocado tree when it was about 3 years old.

One year, there was a fruit fly infestation that was coming to the area.  We couldn’t give the tree preventative shots or take the tree inside to protect it.  Worried about the health of the tree, my dad found an advertisement for a local forum on the fruit fly.  He attended this meeting along with several community farmers.  They all shared with each other to gain insight to their problems, “How many trees do you have?”. Dad answered, “One”.  They were all growers for local groves of avocado farms and fruit trees.  Dad had a grove of one.  After the initial shock from the farmers that dad had a single tree, they tried to offer him suggestions.  They had ideas, products and suggestions for lots of trees if dad had a farm, but with one tree…it wasn’t going to work.  So dad had a good story to tell family and friends about his interaction with the farmers but ended up concocting his own recipes to help the tree and prayed for the best.  It seemed to do the trick as we still have the tree standing today.  (There’s a recipe for this concoction that has gone through several versions to perfect it, but I was sworn to secrecy!)

A photo close up of avocados when the tree was about 11 years old.

Another year, I visited my parents and there was tension in the air.  I asked my mom what was the problem and she explained that they had had some plumbing issues.  They were trying to decide if they were going to take care of the problem.  In most houses, this wouldn’t be such a big decision?  Of course you would fix the problem!  But because the pipe ran under the avocado tree, this became an impossible situation.   One thought was to just let that bathroom be non-operational.  That’s not an option in my mind but I guess if you gave my parents a decision of harming their third child vs. fixing their toilet…they just couldn’t bare it.  Luckily another plumber came up with another solution, so they didn’t have to compromise the tree.  It was plumbing or the tree, and the tree won again.  Thankfully the toilet works again too!

Proud dad with his 11 year old youngest kid.
Proud dad with his 11 year old youngest kid.

My dad loves to give avocados to family and friends.  If you express any desire to eat them, you can expect a bag the next time daddy sees you.  They have been gifts to people far and wide.  Recently, a family friend from the Czech Republic asked dad for some avocados to take to her grandmother on a visit.  We weren’t quite sure she could get through the airport checkpoints with an avocado?  She got nervous and gave the carefully brown paper covered grenade-looking item to her husband to take back home with her after dropping her at the airport.  Before he left, he chatted to a TSA agent about the avocados and they said she could take them with her!  So he quickly passed them to her in line and she flew happily with these California  delectable treats for her grandmother.  Her grandmother spooned them out and ate them for the first time with great delight.  Her gratitude came all the way back to California in the form of a chocolate bar and postcard that we can’t read.  Dad is now our international avocado grower!

International avocado fame.

Sometimes I look at the huge avocado tree in the small backyard and think where has the time gone?  This tree has flourished under the love and care of my devoted one tree farmer father.  Those avocados are the best that people have tasted because of him.  My family and I are certain we got the cream of the crop in this tree that grew up with us, but more importantly in my dad.

Dad and the tree as they are today in 2015.

imageThere’s that saying, “the apple doesn’t fall far from its tree” but in our family,  thankfully the avocado doesn’t!

A very Happy Birthday to my dad!  I love you (and the avocado tree).


Here’s a simple guacamole recipe:

In a food processor or by hand, you can combine avocado, tomatoes, onion, garlic and salt.  Use the flavors to your own particular taste, so if you don’t like onion use very little or none.  If you love garlic, put more in!  Squeeze lime in and mix to serve.  I usually leave the avocado seed in the bowl as that and the lime helps it from turning an unappetizing brown color.  You can’t really go wrong, so have fun and make it for your next gathering or just for yourself on a lazy afternoon.


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