Planting the Seeds (of Life)

Notice the one container in the middle without the plants?

Notice the one container in the middle without the plants?

Until two years ago, I ate very few vegetables, other than cucumbers, asparagus, and lima beans. Yes, I ate lima beans. I always have. I don’t know how anyone couldn’t like them, particularly the big fat ones. Oh, I also ate macaroni and cheese, which is, of course, considered a vegetable here in the south.

I didn’t eat corn either, and people were almost downright offended that I didn’t eat corn.

“How do you not like corn on the cob?” they’d ask.

“Because I don’t like corn on the plate,” I’d say. “I don’t care what you put it on; unless it pops and comes in a bag, I ain’t eating it.”

Fast forward to two thousand and sixteen, and there’s nothing I won’t eat. I’m talking about vegetables. I’m not ready to go all Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern quite yet. By the way, Mr. Zimmern follows me on Twitter and you should, too. @jodyfuller <— simply click right here, just saying.

Two years ago, there would've been potatoes and rice on this plate along with the BBQ chicken.

Two years ago, there would’ve been potatoes and rice on this plate along with the BBQ chicken.

This year, I even started a vegetable garden—my first one. I have everything from A to Z: basil, beans, beets, carrots, chives, cilantro, cucumbers, okra, onions, peppers, peppers, and more peppers, rosemary, squash, tomatoes, watermelon, zucchini, and likely more. Uh-oh, looks like I’m missing an A so I might need to plant some arugula.

Anyway, let’s focus on the zucchini. There’s a life lesson in everything we do. Sometimes it’s right there staring right back at us and other times we have to search for it.

I planted my zucchini seeds in these little biodegradable containers just like I did just about everything else. In fact, I planted 2-3 seeds in three of them. Two of the zucchini seedlings popped up in no time, but one was lagging behind. It was more than lagging; it was nowhere to be found. I made sure it had plenty of sunlight and kept it watered, too. While the others continued to grow, it was still MIA.

After about two weeks, I decided to dig around in the container to see if anything had sprouted from the seeds. If you are unaware of the size of zucchini seeds, well, let’s just say that they are rather large and would have been easy to find. Much to my surprise, they were nowhere to be found. Unless there is a zucchini seed thief running around in my neighborhood, I hadn’t planted the seeds.

IMG_3719

Just because two of them are growing strong, healthy, and obedient, doesn’t mean the third will. I did everything I could to raise those things right. I watered them, put them in the sunlight, heck I even talked to them (don’t tell anyone) yet none of that worked.

The moral of the story is that whether you’re in the workplace or home, you have to plant the seeds early on. If not, all the love, time, nurturing, and mentoring will likely be pointless. It’ll be too late or it’ll take a long time to catch up.

For the record, I discovered my error two weeks into this young plant’s life, so I fixed my situation and I think we are on track to a productive life.

Jody Fuller is from Opelika, Ala. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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A Real Man: My Father’s Day Tribute

It’s often been said that anyone can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad.

My dad was a real man, and I don’t mean just because he had a mustache.

Before losing his eyesight to diabetes in 1974, he was a barber. Since there’s little demand for blind barbers these days, he needed some help and enrolled in the Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega.

Perhaps there wasn’t a demand for blind barbers, but it sure looks like one got “aholt” of me.

Upon the completion of the program in Talladega, he’d acquired the necessary skills and training to operate a business.

He didn’t open up a Fortune 500 company, but he did participate in the Business Enterprise Program for the Blind. This program provides participants who are legally blind with the opportunity to operate their own food service or vending facility. The Business Enterprise Program provides initial training for potential licensees and ongoing counseling and management services to established operators.

All operators retain the majority of the net proceeds from their facility and a small percentage goes back to the division to assist with the program’s operations and expenses.

My dad, who was completely blind, managed the snack machines at many federal and state buildings in Montgomery.

At this point, he and my mom were divorced and he’d remarried another lady who was legally blind. Therefore, neither could drive, so he had to walk to the bus stop every day with nothing but his keen senses and a walking cane and then somehow managed to maneuver his way around our capitol city.

My brother and I went to work with him a few times, but, at the time, had no idea what we were witnessing. Now, however, I’m in awe of what he did. He set such a great example for his two young and impressionable boys to follow.

He didn’t claim to be special, he just led by example. He put his pants on one leg at a time just like any other father. He just didn’t know what color they were once he got them on.

We would spend every other weekend with him, as well as a few weeks during the summer. Oftentimes, as we were loading back up into our 1971 gas guzzling Sherman tank to head back to Opelika, our dad would give us money. It never was much. If we were lucky, it was a Kennedy half dollar.

Sherman Tank

We used to get a lot of spankings but I usually had time to pad my backside before the blind man took off his belt. Hey, a boy’s gotta do what a boy’s gotta do.

Unfortunately, I didn’t always have time to pad the backside.

One day, before getting into the gas guzzler, I asked him for the money, and he yanked his belt off like Sinbad the Sailor. I got a lot of whippings when I was a kid, but there are about four of them that stand out above all the rest. This was one of them.

He taught me a valuable lesson that day. I hadn’t done anything to earn that money and certainly wasn’t entitled to it. Since that day, I’ve never held my hand out expecting something for doing nothing. I’m grateful he set me straight at such an early age.

He was a real father.

He taught us to say “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.”

For Christmas, he bought us enriching gifts such as globes, books, and encyclopedias.

He even made us eat all of our vegetables. While my brother gladly obliged, I fake moaned and groaned as I either fed them to the dog or quietly raked them into the trashcan.

Once again, a boy’s gotta do what a boy’s gotta do.

Sorry, daddy, but I still don’t eat vegetables.

Diabetes ended his life prematurely. He was just 35 years old. My brother was 11; I was a month shy of turning nine.

We weren’t with him for very long, but we were with him long enough to be forever impacted by his fatherly ways. The man knew what he was doing. He had a great father, as well. It’s amazing how that works.

Sadly not all kids have great fathers and that’s a shame. Every kid needs a father or a father figure in his or her life. When my dad died, one of my uncles picked up the slack.

Grateful that my Uncle Wayde picked up the slack , even if he did wear Daisy Dukes to Panama City.

If a father figure is not available, the mother must pull double duty. Although, incredibly difficult, it can be done. I’m grateful to have had a strong mother, too.

So, to all the dads out there, I say Happy Father’s Day; however, if you’re just a father and not a dad, the time to make that transition is right now.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

This is one of only two pictures I have with him. The other is from a large family gathering. Glad to see my parents had the same haircut. Wylie was growing into his. I always was a little different.

This is one of only two pictures I have with him. The other is from a large family gathering. Glad to see my parents had the same haircut. Wylie was growing into his. I always was a little different.