My grandmother grew the most amazing African violets. They would be lined up row upon row in ceramic pots my grandfather had made. I admired her ability to coax buds from between their furry leaves, each one robust and vibrant. More than once she handed me a plant to take home which I would carry carefully, shielding it from the wind and proudly placing it near a window sill. Inevitably the flowers would start to shrivel and die almost as soon as I would look at them. I am not blessed with a green thumb. I have the thumb of annihilation, wreaking death and destruction on houseplants everywhere, but that has not stopped me from dreaming of having a home overflowing with greenery.
It’s funny where and how a person lives on. My grandparents have been dead for years but I still feel like they are with me. I find my grandmother in a houseplant. I see my grandfather’s pottery and I imagine his big catcher’s mitt hands that were able to create the most delicate lines from lumps of clay. I can’t remember his voice that well but I remember him pressing a tiny piece of pottery into my palm, a delicate pitcher for tea parties that I hosted for my stuffed animals. I remember my grandmother crying at family gatherings. She would bury her face in her apron, crying from happiness that those that she loved were together. At the time I found it strange and embarrassing. I couldn’t understand why a family gathering (a good one without fighting) could reduce her to tears. I too have a tendency to cry easily, much to the embarrassment and confusion of those around me. I am glad that that part of her, the corny sentimental side, lives on in me.
Every few years, in honour of my grandmother, I buy an African violet to see if it will sprout a flower. It never happens. Usually the poor thing shrivels and dies like all the unfortunate plants before it. Until now. Today I spotted a small flower unfurling from my lone brave violet that has refused to die. It feels like my grandmother is saying hello.