Many of the lessons that I got from my mom were non-spoken. They have been built over years of watching and imitating her. Some have even been lessons learned during her illness and then after her passing. All are valuable in their own way, but some specifically I hold very dear, because they say more about her character than anything else.
This weekend I spent countless hours outside with Chris trying to mend my relationship with my plants after a month of neglect. Overall, my plants have been very resilient and strong, but it is apparent they were desperately seeking attention.
“Stupid plant! Stop wilting!” I actually screamed this at a plant (of unknown species). I picked the yellow leaves out from around it, much like an ape removing lice from her young. I fluffed up the leaves and put my hands on my hips and stared at it. I felt resentful that my plants have not intuitively known what I have been going through and mustered through unscathed as a gift to me. Truthfully, I felt overwhelmed. I had an out of body experience, looking over myself, seeing the metaphor of my plants (plant type being mostly unknown to me), and watching them wilt before my very eyes, feeling helpless. My mom had come to visit me a couple times after I moved into the new house, and while walking around the front and back yards instantly began naming my plant’s species and giving me care techniques. I suddenly felt angry at my plants! Then I felt guilt. WHY? Why don’t I have a green thumb? Aren’t those hereditary? “Stupid plant! Listen to me!”
It was then that I had my ah-ha moment.
I would tell you that a gust of wind blew past me poetically as if my mom had whispered in my ear, but this was not something external that overtook me. This was something that came from inside me and fought its way to my consciousness. The little pieces I’m holding of my mom emerged. My mom would not be angry at her plants. My mom would expect greatness out of them, but would nurture them back to health, regardless of the time it took.
Lesson 3: Be patient. Be stern. Be attentive.
I could easily translate this to more than plants. To my future children. To my Chihuahua, Stella. To my coworkers, and family, and friends… to myself. These three things are necessary for life to grow and thrive.
As a wiggly and scatter-brained child, I would dance around my mom, giggling, singing, somewhat observing her as she’d tend to her garden. “Okay guavas, I am going to give you another month, and I expect to see fruit!”
I’d follow her lead, “yeah guavas! I want to eat you!” I’d giggle.
Sure enough, as time would pass her trees would bloom, her flowers would grow, and hummingbirds and butterflies would follow her, knowingly, as the almighty creator of their Garden of Eden.
She was kind to her plants. She took the time to visit with each one daily, whether to water it or just check and see how it was doing. She’d talk to them. Sometimes even scold them, if they were being stubborn. She expected greatness out of each seed she planted, but also knew that she had to in turn offer unconditional nurturing and attentiveness.