When my father passed away, the funeral director asked us to take home the potted plants people had sent to adorn the chapel. The cemetery only wanted fresh-cut flowers at his grave site. We each chose a plant and for the last thirteen years I have struggled to keep mine alive. Every plant in the pot died except for one. It’s a tall woody thing with green leaves striated with yellow stripes.
There have been years when it was near death and I could only get it to keep two or three leaves. I have tried to recreate what the arrangement looked like and bought new plants to fill the empty spaces, but they never last. This past year, it took on new life. It filled out with leaves though I had done nothing different.
When my mother passed away last year, the funeral director asked my brothers, sisters, and me to take home the potted plants people had sent to adorn the chapel where we held her visitation and rosary. I let everyone choose first and took home the one that remained. I put it on the same shelf where I keep dad’s plant. In the last ten months, some of her plants have died, and I have struggled to water and feed it to keep it going.
I don’t think these arrangements are meant to last, either they are potted right before delivery and haven’t taken root, or they are matched only for aesthetics and the plants are not compatible. Some need water; some don’t. Some need sunlight; some don’t. Mother’s plant has hard soil. Water rolls off it, so I have to set it in the sink and soak it in order to reach the plants’ roots. Neither arrangement looks like it did when I brought it home.
Why do I bother?
Every morning when I sit at the kitchen table and drink my morning coffee, I look across at the shelf where I placed the plants. I think about how my dad’s plant held on all this time until my mom’s plant could join him. They are together again and it amuses me.