A while back I encountered an older gentleman at my physical therapist's office. We would often chat while waiting for our appointments.
One day he paused mid conversation, looked at me and said, "Sweetheart, if I were 30 years younger, I would show you a good time, but now all I can offer you is conversation." We both laughed.
And so converse we did.
I came to learn his name was Mitch and that he was a composer, though of what kind of music, I didn't know. He learned that I was a triathlete and liked to play with my food.
Finally, he told me about The Man of La Mancha, Yul Brenner and his real estate ventures. I also learned about his children and family.
When asked how he was feeling by anyone in the office, he would look them squarely in the eye and say, "I'm vertical!" That brightened the moods of everyone in the office.
I adopted the phrase and started saying it all the time. To me, it encapsulated the best reality check. Yes, it might be a shitty day. The music may not be flowing, the legs not going anywhere fast, but I was vertical so, you know, world's smallest violin—the rest is just details.
I only saw him on occasion, but he was always positive, thoughtful and interested in chatting. I began hoping I would run into him during my PT sessions and looked forward to his stories.
My physical therapist texted me today to tell me he had passed away. I felt an odd sadness at the news. Odd because I didn't know him that well, but he had touched my life in a comparatively large way with his outlook.
And so, I dedicate this recipe collection to Mitch Leigh. It's a collection of past recipes that I think fall in line with his theme...staying vertical, remembering what's important in life and being grateful for all that good stuff.
Rest in peace, Mr. Leigh
Potatoes for Rocky