I thanked my driver for finding me. I noticed he had the same name as my mom’s youngest brother and told him so. There’s 8 kids total, and something like 21 grandkids, 27 great-grandkids on that side (and I always get the numbers wrong, so let’s just pretend I’m right). My driver said it was the same with his family – darn Catholics, populating the world. My driver said he was a middle child and would run free, always throwing himself head first into trouble.

He told me there was one time he was supposed to be watching one of his younger brothers, and somehow his brother managed to tip his lightweight umbrella stroller backwards. Tore up his little lip. Boy, did my driver get some ass smacks. Little brother got stitches. The thing about these big families is that it doesn’t matter if there is a mom and dad; you are in charge of your brothers and sisters.

We moved on to talking about houses and gardening. I told him about the house I had briefly and what kind of fruit trees I had (lemon, grapefruit, pomegranate). I had purchased my house post-foreclosure, so I had nursed everything back from the brink of extinction. My driver’s house had been mistreated by rental tenants before he bought it, and he was working on reviving it as well. He questioned me on pomegranates; do they get to be edible size? (Answer: Yes. Give them time.) He asked me about his tangelo tree; will it grow? (Answer: Maybe. Hybrids are tricky. When we do hybrids, we sacrifice certain things, like tree height, or good-tasting fruit. He will just have to keep treating it well and see, if the place he bought it from didn’t set expectations for him. It’s kind of like what we have done to roses. They might be pretty, but now they don’t smell like anything.) His lemon tree is growing like gangbusters. I did tell him multiple times to make sure that he didn’t trim down any parts of the citrus trees to the trunk, otherwise the tree would be “sunburned” and die off. Those trees like the shade on their bark.

My driver is happy planting trees that will bear fruit that he can just go outside and pick.

My uncle with the same name is a farmer.