The Pickle

The jar is still in the garage refrigerator. I’m not sure how Kevin managed to get it home sometime in those last weeks before he died. It’s the big jar – 2.5 quarts. Hauling that and his portable oxygen tank through the store couldn’t have been easy – but he loved those giant dill pickles.

The jar is still there, still half-full. He didn’t get them all eaten before he died, and I didn’t think about tossing the jar because cleaning out the garage refrigerator was not on my radar last summer. I barely cleaned out the refrigerator in the kitchen this past year.

I’m not sure what to do with the jar now. It’s obviously over a year old, but I don’t want to throw it out. Kevin touched it. That means something, though I’m not sure what.


I heard the garage door rattle up and the truck roared into its parking spot. For a second after the engine stopped, I could hear talk radio blaring through the closed windows and garage wall. Then it was quiet. The kitchen door still didn’t open, and I knew what was going on. Sure enough, when Kevin walked through the door to give me a kiss, his lips were cool and tasted of pickles.

“Ewww! Did you just drink pickle juice?” I backed away, holding my nose after a quick peck.

He laughed, admitted to his crime, and tried to pull me closer for another kiss, just to tease me. Little Bear had come running at the sound of the word “pickle” and now danced around our legs, jumping up and down. “Daddy, where’s my pickle?! Daddy, can I please have one of your pickles?! Please?!”

I just groaned.

And knew that in about five minutes, after he’d changed into some sweatpants and a t-shirt, the two of them would be sitting in the recliner, watching cartoons, and crunching on giant salty dill pickles.

Those two and their pickles.


We wandered around the Renaissance Faire, clutching various treasures she’d accumulated along the way: a dragon’s teardrop, a few jewels, a homemade pirate flag, some business cards. After the jousting tournament and her presentation to the queens upon completion of the Kids Quest, I asked her:

“So, Bear, are we about done? Is there anything else we need to do before we head out?”

We took a few more steps along the tree-shaded path, our feet making little clouds of dust in the road as we passed by the storyteller, dramatically waving her arms about to illustrate her story. Another few steps and then, very quietly:

“Well, Mama, did you forget about my pickle?”

The pickle.

We’d seen a cart by the jousting field. A black chalkboard advertised in scrawling white letters: PICKLES $1.00.

“Look, Mama! Daddy’s pickles!”

And I promised her we’d get one when we finished the Quest. And then, over the course of the afternoon, I’d forgotten because pickles have never been high on my list.

But she’s her Daddy’s girl. And those two love their pickles.

I looked at her pleading eyes, shook my head with a wry grin, and we backtracked through the village, on a quest for a pickle. I passed over the dollar, and my girl accepted the giant dill pickle with an equally giant smile on her face. We wandered down into the shady hollow and found a little bench, tucked back from the dusty trail.

CRUNCH! She bit in and the pickled skin snapped and the smell of vinegar floated in the air around us.

CRUNCH! I saw Kevin’s laughing face and tasted the dill on his mouth.

CRUNCH! Her cool lips brushed my cheek in a quick kiss in between bites.

“Daddy and I love big pickles, don’t we, Mama?” She kicked her legs happily, the smile never leaving her face even while she crunched away on her icy treat.

I nodded.

“Why do we like pickles so much, Mama?” She wasn’t necessarily looking for an answer, it was just part of the script surrounding my two pickle people.

I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. “Maybe because you’re sour?” Her delighted laugh rang out through the trees. “Maybe because you’re so ‘dilly’?” Somehow a giggle escaped around the bite in her mouth.

It didn’t really hit me until later. But if I think about it, the whole point of pickling something is to preserve it, to flavor it, to make it last. And eating pickles is a way to keep Daddy close to her; it’s something the two of them shared – even down to drinking the leftover juice from the jar. Maybe she likes pickles so much because she loves her Daddy so much. Maybe eating these sour pickles flavors her memories of him with a sweetness only the two of them could ever understand. Maybe these giant dill pickles preserve Daddy in her heart, keep him with her in a way that only she can appreciate.

Those two and their pickles…

The jar is still in the garage refrigerator. I think for now…it needs to stay.


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