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The Christmas Cactus


My mother-in-law kept a Christmas cactus over her sink on the window sill that looked out into the back yard.  Someone had given it to her as a present and she cherished it all the years I knew her.  It had three, spindly stems and never grew others. It also never bloomed.
When the plant grew long and unwieldy, she would cut off some of its length and repot the cuttings.  These she offered to anyone who had shown interest in the plant.  I always deferred the offer, laughing at my inability to keep any house plant alive for more than a month.  But in all honesty, I found the plant ugly.
If this was what it was supposed to look like, I did not find it lovable.  It was unworthy of all the attention and care my sweet mother-in-law gave that barren, little plant. I would have ditched it and moved on to something else to overwater – like the African Violets or Venus Flytraps that my children gave me as presents. 
I wasn’t there when my mother-in-law passed away.  By then I was married to my second (and present) husband.  I wonder if her family fought over that old plant like they did over all her other possessions. 

I would have taken that plant. I would have cared for it as much as she did all those years. There was nothing in her house that I remember as well as I do that ugly little plant, but I remember her loyalty to it.  She knew that one day it would bloom.  One day, it would return her love. 

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