Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Big Momma...A Story Of Survival...Sort Of

     Some of my friends claim I have a "green thumb".  Personally, I think my plants just feel sorry for me and grow out of kindness!  Big Momma is one of these empathetic plants.

     Ten years ago, I took off on a cross country move from Houston, TX, to Seattle, WA, accompanied by my bestest friend, Patty, and a car full of my most precious possessions, which included my house plants.  I knew better than to try to ship plants with the rest of my furniture because the moving van would be traveling over the Rocky Mountains and the conditions in the truck would certainly kill my beloved plants.  My car, on the other hand, would be temperature-controlled for humans and what I thought was the "best" option.

     We left Houston on a fairly warm March day (when is it NOT warm in Houston?!) and drove as far as Amarillo, TX.  We were so exhausted from the drive (Patty had surgery only the week before, but insisted on making the trip with me), by the time we got to the hotel, all we could do was stumble into the room with a suitcase and collapse on our beds.  Little did I realize, Amarillo weather is NOT the predictable heat belt of the south like Houston!

     When we awoke the next morning, we discovered a blanket of snow had fallen and the temperatures had dropped in the teens!  My beloved plants, which had remained in the back seat of my car, all but frozen to death in the chill.  Only a couple of hearty cactus remained alive and well.  Needless to say, I was devastated by my own stupidity.

     Five days later, when we arrived in Seattle, I unloaded the coffin of plants and set the wilted pots outside.  The small Jade plant I had been traveling with looked as though it had gone through a fire with it's freezer-burnt leaves piling up at the base of its pot...it didn't take a horticulture major for me to figure out it was dead.  I simply stacked the "coffin pots" in a corner of the back yard, thinking eventually I'd just buy new plants to refill them.

     A few months later I returned to the plant coffins to discover one, tiny leaf of the Jade plant had somehow taken root and had grown a new stem that was no more than an inch tall.  I was quite amazed to find this!  I remember thinking (perhaps even out loud) "Game On!", and picked up the little sign of life and took her inside the house.

     From that one, tiny leaf Big Momma evolved (that's her in the pictures).  She has grown into a thriving sight over the past ten years, surviving three moves to new homes (Jade plants are quite sensitive to being physically moved as well as light changes...particularly if they are knocked on their sides in transport...yes, this happened a few times in moving!), but most of all surviving ME!  She came back from the dead and has flourished in spite of my ignorance and sometimes blatant disregard for her needs.  She is a true survivor.

     I have an unusual relationship with my plants.  I name them and decide their "personalities" when I acquire them.  Often times I "acquire" them because I feel sorry for them in the store and will choose to take them home because they appear to have been neglected and/or dying.  I don't have kids or pets, so my plants fulfill this pseudo-role for me.  The thing that separates them from children and animals though, is their lack of true "need" of anything from me, other than a little water now and then and some light...if only children were this easy I might have considered parenthood!

     But my plants are like little people to me and I believe their lives parallel our human existence.  Big Momma is a fine case in point to discuss.  As I said, Big Momma is a SURVIVOR.  She has beaten the odds (AKA, my "best" intentions!) and, although showing signs of wear and tear, she continues on.  I have probably done nothing really to help Big Momma grow and mostly interfered with her own, innate process!  My interaction with her has certainly "influenced" her over the years, but I've done nothing that has changed her core or inner wisdom of surviving...I'm sort of like Multiple Sclerosis to Big Momma really!!!  I knocked her down, altered her growth process, bumped her around, and yet she's stronger now than ever...

     Those of us with MS are ALL survivors like Big Momma.  Some of us thought MS would kill us like the frost in Amarillo (and unfortunately, there have been those before us where MS DID take lives).  MS knocked us down to our core, yet somehow we found our "roots" and hung on.  We have wonderful periods of growth, then the MS (like me with Big Momma) decides it's time to "move" us around a bit, change our "lighting", knock a branch off, etc.  We adapt to these changes and continue to grow with sometimes "unique" shapes and forms...I believe just like Big Momma, it is this uniqueness that adds to our beauty.

     I've decided if Big Momma can survive me, I can surely survive MS and perhaps even do better than survival...I can continue to grow and add my own beauty to the world around me.

     I'm just sayin'...

1 comment:

sonyasuzanne said...

Today has been one of the 'brain damage' days for me....the roller coaster of MS...up one minute and down the next.

Thanks so much for your message of Survivorship!  You have a way of hugging me right where I need to be 'hugged'.  This message is another one of those times.

Your arms reach all the way from Seattle.  Did you know that?

And ta think...you were just saying.....