Page 22: Watermelon

Joe saw lots of things on the drive back to Elsmore, none of which were familiar to him, all of which he was afraid of.  He saw big monsters in the field.  Sometimes they were red, sometimes they were green.  He later learned that these “monsters” were tractors and combines, things that he drove on a frequent basis when helping out his parents on the farm.

Christa decided to make a stop at the grocery store before going home.  She would have Joe pick out his favorite foods so that she could fix him the big meals like she used to.  When they arrived at the grocery store, Joe followed Christa in.  Once inside the store, Joe looked at all the different colors and sizes of items sitting on the shelves.

“Joe, would you grab me one of those watermelons?  You’ve always loved watermelon,” Christa said.

Joe looked confused.  He looked around, hoping that he would see something that he knew would be a watermelon.  But he didn’t.  “Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon….” he kept hearing the word over and over in his head until he felt like his head was spinning.  He knew he should know what a watermelon was.  His mom said he loved watermelon…but he didn’t know.  He just didn’t know!  He started to cry.

Christa had gone ahead with the cart, and when she realized that Joe wasn’t behind her, she turned around to see him standing there, frozen, his hands clenched at his side, tears streaming down his face.  “Oh goodness, Joe, what’s wrong?” 

Considerably upset, Joe quietly cried, “I don’t know…don’t know…what’s a watermelon?”  

Tears came to Christa’s eyes as well.  Joe didn’t even know what food was or what food he liked.  She showed him the watermelons.

Joe took his hands and felt the watermelon, and then he picked it up.  “How do you eat this?!”  he asked.
Christa explained that you cut it up, that it is pink inside and that you don’t eat the green shell.  “When we get home, I’ll show you, and you can have some.  You’ll remember when you taste it, I’m sure.”

Making the shopping trip shorter than she had intended so as not to frustrate Joe anymore, Christa quickly grabbed a few more items, checked out and left the grocery store, explaining her every move to Joe so that he would understand.

When they got home, she took the watermelon, cut it up into bite size pieces, put it into a bowl, and gave Joe a fork to eat it with.  He took a bite and chewed it slowly.  It’s what Joe did with every new food he ate, because even though he had eaten it many times before, he couldn’t remember, and he was afraid–afraid of the taste, afraid of what it might do to him.  He had to trust his mom, trust her that this was something he should eat and trust her that he would like it.

He decided he liked the watermelon and took another bite as he refilled his memory with the name and taste of more foods that he liked.

FACT:  Joe didn’t know what a watermelon was and experienced great frustrations over not knowing what certain foods were.
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