Killed by a Cucumber

My Nana Vi was killed by a cucumber. I don’t mean that she was literally killed by a vegetable (I know, thoughts of cucumbers used as weapons are crossing your mind at this very instant) nor do I mean to speak about my Nana’s death so lightly.

But it was, in fact, a cucumber slice that started a chain of events that ended her life.  This is how it went down, figuratively and literally.

My Nana was in her early 70s and walking in a train station. Someone – hours, minutes, or seconds before was eating their salad or snack that included cucumbers, discarded or dropped one slice and kept on going.  Now, you would have to be oblivious or completely not present to not realize a cucumber had fallen from your mouth or lunch OR you would have to be a jerk to just throw it to the ground.  Whatever circumstance led this slice to fall, and the individual involved to not pick it up once it fell, is mind blowing.  I mean, who would drop a slice of anything and keep on going?

Well, this person did. And my Nana, in her lively awesomeness, was making her way to her train, probably headed to the theater or to a museum (I mean, she was a classy lady) and she just places one foot on this slice and flies in the air in a banana-slip cartoon fall.  The fall leads to a busted leg which leads to the hospital and then surgery, sepsis, and then her untimely death a few days later.

And so you can see how I might feel as if my Nana was killed by a cucumber.

It was not really a cucumber that killed her though. It was carelessness. It was because someone just kept on going without caring about the consequences of their actions.  It was because someone was not being present in the moment.

When I walk in a public place, I do this weird floor-scan thing.  It is an unconscious part of me now. If I see something that could be slipped on, I clean it up. It is a small way for me to be present.

I think about this a lot…how people go about their lives without being present.How often do others pass something that could be slipped on, without stopping, assuming that someone else will take care of it?

I did not set out to send a message about cleaning up after others and I am not on a crusade to eliminate all death by cucumber or slippage incidents.  I just want you to think.  I want us all to think.  To take the time to think about others.  To take the time to pause and be present.  To pause so we can breathe in and breathe out.

Our lives are made up of a series of moments.  Moments, strung together. Piece by piece these moments make up an hour, a minute, a second.  These moments fly by and sometimes we go through life moment by moment without a care in the world about others.

I worry about myself when I stop caring about these fly by moments.


(If you are interested in starting your own mindfulness practice, you might check out the app: Stop, Breathe &Think.  I use it and really enjoy it! It’s free. You tap in how you’re feeling – body, mind, emotions and it spits out choices of short meditation to try. )



10 thoughts on “Killed by a Cucumber

  1. I’ve never really thought about it as being “present” in the moment… I just think of it as being a responsible human being when I replace fallen items and sometimes place a misplaced item where it belongs on a store shelf, etc.. If I can do it, I always figure, “why not?” And spilled food? I’ve cleaned all the tables at Starbucks when mine is dirty and I ask for a damp cloth, or cleaned up around the condiment areas. I’m not a fastidious person, and not OCD (I don’t think); it just feels like the right thing to do.
    Now I will think about the cucumber and know it is the right thing to do. I’m so sorry your grandmother had to have that encounter. Sometimes there are just accidents though. Maybe someone was carrying a salad AND a 2 year old who swiped the cucumber and tossed it without her seeing what he did – or she was late for the train with her hands full and couldn’t stop – and hoped that someone else would see it and be able to help her out. One just never knows…


  2. Dana, I wasn’t sure where this piece was headed, but I kept reading because you had my attention. Although it is really a very serious piece, you found a way to write it that made it more about being thoughtful, living in each moment, slowing down to think about the choices you make. We all could do more of that! I appreciate the advice about the app and am going to check it out!


  3. People are (me included) rushing through life these days never stopping to think how one little thing like a cucumber could actually effect another’s life. Your slice is a great reminder to slow down…


  4. Insight Timer is another good app that I use for various different meditations.
    Dana, I loved your piece, I especially loved the title which, as Lynne said, pulled me right in to find out more. That cucumber did kill Nana, as well as the mindless way most people live their lives, leading to that banana peel, err cucumber, being left on the ground to begin with. I hope you write more about Nan. I would love to read about her classiness.


  5. How tragic that some action so simple could lead to such a devastating ending. Being mindful of ones surroundings and life is important. Life goes by too quickly as it is, no need to speed it up with carelessness. Loved your humor, but sad for your loss.


  6. The way you describe your Nana’s “lively awesomeness” and that she was probably on the way to a museum reminds me of Nana in the City. Lovely piece and I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Sounds like maybe you should write some more about your Nana’s awesomeness.


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