I envy people who have a green thumb with houseplants. That’s not me. I try, but I just can’t do it. Usually the plants would survive for a brief time, and then very slowly, they would begin to gasp for air and then wither and die.
Dad and I had a plant that required very little sunlight. It was a housewarming gift I believe. We named it Wendell and he lived for many years. I was hopeful that perhaps I had finally learned to be a good plant parent. Wendell was supposed to have a long life expectancy, but I eventually killed him before we left our New York home for New Jersey, where we lived for sixteen years.
I made many friends in New Jersey, and I truly believed that I would remain a Jersey girl forever. As you all know, nothing last forever. When I announced to my dear friend Margaret that we were going to move, she gave me a beautiful house plant as a going-away gift.
Getting a plant from most people would normally be considered a gesture of kindness, but I believe Margaret knew that I did not have a green thumb and therefore purposefully chose to give me that plant rather than an arrangement of flowers. She gave what appeared to be a gift given out of kindness, but I believe she was secretly chuckling at her present to me.
But I was determined to get the last laugh. I carefully tended that plant, and moved it ever so gently from house to house to house—North Carolina to Georgia to South Carolina. It thrived. But then Margaret got sick, and I became more intent on keeping that plant healthy.
Margaret died four years after giving me that gift. One year, we had an early frost, and when I went out to the porch and saw the wilting brown leaves, I was devastated. That plant was my living link to my friend. I removed the dead leaves, and as the plant continued its downward spiral, I added a buddy, hoping that would help my plant survive.
Sadly, like my friend Margaret, my plant did not make it either, so now I have the lovely blue and white ceramic container to remind me of her. In the summer, I fill it with beautiful annuals and think of her. At Christmas time, I fill it with stones and add candles.
Nothing lasts forever, but memories do.