For a cook, shelter in the onions

The words “I love you” get thrown around an awful lot, which isn’t an especially bad thing since you can never have enough love in the world.

The phrase can actually have a lot of meanings. To friends who live far away we may say “I love you,” a statement that means “I want you to know that our friendship is so important, so especially cherished, that I feel comfortable making this pronouncement.”

There is the pure and special “I love you” that a mother speaks to her baby, even before the baby can comprehend the words. But if everyone’s lucky the baby can come to associate those words in later years with the warm, wonderful feeling that comes of being cuddled and coddled and, yes, loved.

There are other “I love you” instances that aren’t so noble. One is the desperate “I love you,” the one that gets said to a lover when we are not so sure of the ground on which we stand with them, or need that extra special reassurance. It is an “I love you” that is said with a tweak that also conveys the idea that the speaker requires an “I love you” back. These instances of “I love you” are often a sign of rocky times to come.

And then there was the “I love you” that David Verdin of Schriever, who turned 32 on June 4th, experienced on that special day. It wasn’t the three words, but the bottom line in terms of what he took from it all was indeed that someone very special had said, “I love you.”

David is a lot like plenty of 32 year-olds in the local communities here.

An H.L. Bourgeois High School graduate, he has held a succession of different jobs, trying like a lot of young men and women to see where he fit in, what would be best, and what might translate into a successful and happy career.

He has driven a truck, done outside oilfield supply sales, waited tables and performed occasional disc jockey work.

Stout and muscled, with a shaved head and visible but closely-shaven facial hair, someone who didn’t know David might figure him for a tough guy for a distance. But he is polite, often introspective and generally gentle.

Like most everyone who is honest, he admits to mistakes, and decisions that have caused his mother, Tammie Pitre, to sprout some gray hairs over the years. Nothing really bad. Just occasional things that worry mothers, which most of us have been guilty.

There was a lot of love in the household where David grew up with two older brothers and a younger sister.

Their father, Eric Verdin, who did quality control for an oilfield company, was the parent who mostly gave out the “I love you’s” the children received. He died on Father’s Day 2002 and the “I love you’s” ceased. Miss Tammie never picked up that particular mantle.

“It’s always been a good relationship, she has gone above and beyond as a mother,” David says.

She never did say, “I love you” much or at all, nor heap any sort of praise. David maintains he has always been confident of her love, and so she didn’t really have to say anything at all.

So anyhow, on June 4th there was David, dutifully working in the restaurant that now employs him, preparing onions for the dinner rush to come.

There is some slicing involved and also a lot of peeling, although generally once peeled the onions get thrown into a machine that does the slicing and dicing automatically.

His cell phone vibrated and while taking a break David looked at the screen.

“Wishing you a Very Happy Birthday,” the message reads. “I am proud of the man you have become. I am proud to call you my son! Have a wonderful day.”

David messaged his mom and told her the message was the absolute best gift he ever could have been given.

Then he went back to work with the onions, grateful of their reputation for making even the strongest person cry. It would be an easy excuse, he reckoned, for the tears of gratitude and joy that welled up in his eyes, and that reappear whenever he looks at the text message from his mom.