Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mom and the afterlife of plants

My mom, bless her heart, did not have a green thumb. As much as she loved houseplants, she could not keep them growing to save her soul.

Her favorite plant was the Gloxinia, a showy floral with large flowers of magenta, purple or vivid pink. A healthy plant would bloom enthusiastically until it gradually declined and stopped.

Now, the wonderful thing about Gloxinias is that after they die back, you can rest the plant in a cool, dark place for a month or two. The plant will then “return to life” and, with proper care, it will blossom once more.

This was a big factor in her love of the gorgeous plants. While all the African violets, amaryllises, Easter lilies, poinsettias and other plants that died in her care were gone for good, the Gloxinia had the potential to live again. My frugal mom also loved that idea that she could justify the cost as a good buy since the plant could come back to bloom another time.

Every Spring, she bought a beautiful, healthy Gloxinia covered with buds and blossoms and brought it home. When the plant finally died back, she carried it into a dusty corner of the basement to rest-- and then forgot about it.

After Mom died, my siblings and I were faced with the task of cleaning out her basement. Among all the boxes of clutter were dozens of old plastic pots, still wrapped in pastel-colored foil and containing the desiccated remains of old Gloxinias.

I like to think of this as a sweet testament to Mom’s enduring belief in some kind of afterlife—and just maybe, that we all get a second chance to bloom.

              When the gloxinia dies,
              The leaves turn limp and gray
              The last blossom falls off.
              Then mother puts the pot away
              To rest and reinvigorate.
              She believes it will bloom again
              That someday it will be reborn
              And, so will she.


Sparrow chic said...


It truly is a memory of Grandma and it made me smile remembering all the dried plants in her dining room.

Joanne Noragon said...

In our house it was the over-wintered geraniums in the east bay window, and the African Violets overwatered to death. No matter, we were always making starts of new plants from the leaves.

Teresa Evangeline said...

This is wonderful! I'm crying! I absolutely love this. What a great tribute to your mom and so beautifully written.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

You have really captured a wonderful bit of your mother's hopeful spirit. Great post!

Buttercup said...

This is lovely. I have your mother's thumb and do keep plants past their prime in the hopes that they are just "resting."

Elaine said...

Wonderful post. I confess to having shed an emotional tear.

Linda Starr said...

how wonderful, I feel like I know your mom in this telling and I have never grown gloxinia, I may just have to get one, I do much better with outdoor plants than indoor ones.

Moving with Mitchell said...

This is just beautiful and brought tears to my eyes!

Ms Sparrow said...

Wow! Your comments at truly heartwarming. Thank you.

Jenny said...

Gloxinias are such gorgeous flowers! This was really, really a neat post. I hope your Mothers day was happy...and that you have one growing in honor of your Mom.

John Going Gently said...

nice memories
nice blog entry x

Kittie Howard said...

Ms Sparrow, I feel the love for your mother in every word. But your mom's not alone -- I'm great with outdoor plants but can't get the hang of indoor plants. Too much water!

And thank you for purchasing Remy. You're very sweet to do so.

Daughter Number Three said...

I never knew that aspect of gloxinias, but now I'll never forget it. Thanks.