When my mother passed away, my brother gave me some plants. He ordered this large plant arrangement for her services with the intention of gifting it to me. It was very thoughtful of him. It was a large, round, terra cotta planter with a protruding piece of driftwood coming out of the top, looking like Pride Rock from The Lion King. Atop of driftwood Pride Rock was a small birds nest with a faux bird in it. There was an assortment of houseplants within this, all different varieties I could remember my mother tending to at one point or another in my life.
I loved and hated this plant at the same time. I felt this sense of duty to it, that I must keep all the plants alive, no matter what. My mom is dead and these plants are here, and none of it makes sense. I tended to it, watered it well, pruned the different parts. Eventually the plants were all flourishing enough that I needed to re-pot them into their own individual containers. All in all, I had about 8 different plants.
Some of them didn’t make it. At first, I was really sad about this for sentimental reasons. Time’s went on and more of those plants are dead now, but others are still going strong. The pothos has grown and overgrown so much, giving up so many of its leaves to cuttings and making new plants that are brightening up others’ homes now. When I was checking on it the other day, inspecting the leaves and trimming out the dried parts, I was astonished to find even more newly unfurled nascent leaves sprouting from the vines. It’s strong and it gives and grows so much.
Out of the eight, three are left. a golden pothos, some type of palm tree looking plant, maybe a Dracena, Peace Lily, a weird green stalk of a plant, and a prayer plant. The last one I really thought wouldn’t make it. It had withered and crumbled to almost nothing spare for one leaf. But I replanted what was left of it, and it’s now going strong somehow. I don’t know what it needs, and I suppose I could look it up instead of just my guideline of “I guess I’ll water it once a week” that I do with the rest of my plants.
What struck me the most, was the other day, when doing my weekly plant-watering, to see yet more new growth coming out of the prayer plant. To be honest, I didn’t even know what that plant was called until I sat down to type this out. I googled “common house plants” and tried to find the one with the variegated green with red veins stranger that has called my kitchen table home. I thought “wow this is doing so well, I need to call my mom and ask her what this is.” I still have those little moments, where I forget that she is gone. Where for an instant I’ll pick up my phone to call her over something silly that me and her would laugh about, or ask her for advice on plants or cooking, tell her about a cool dog I saw. We had our ups and downs, but when things were good, a conversation that was supposed to be a quick 5 minute chat could go on for hours.
Taking up house plants as a hobby is just my little way of keeping her memory alive. She always had plants at home, would put them on our porch or in the kitchen window and would marvel at how well they would be thriving. It’s been two years, but I still reach to pick up the phone to call her when I miss her. There’s something that my brain just can’t accept about her actually being gone. There’s a disconnect – I know it’s true, I know it’s real, but the habit is still there no matter what. Sometimes, you just want your mom. I’d give anything to hear her laugh again.