Monday, March 21, 2011

Hello, Spring

Billie Hinton's wonderful post about writing space spurred me to report on my recent silence here. Since my father's passing in December 2010, I've been working on fiction and my memoir about my search for home.

I'll be back with more posts related to home (and writing, too) but am focused on finishing a collection of stories: Women In Bed.  I've published eight of the possibly nine stories that will complete the collection. The eighth story: "Bird of Grief" will be published in June by Connotation Press and will be their Feature Story of the Month. What an honor.

Now to what's really on my mind.

We have a plant in our house. (A total of two plants because I have a red thumb or whatever color thumb is the opposite of green.) This plant was a gift from my father when we moved into an apartment 15 years ago.  Gardening was my father's passion.

When my father gave us this plant, it was robust.  For two years it bloomed pink flowers that looked like fluted champagne glasses with feathers.  We moved to the city and the blooming stopped. But the plant kept on.  It grew leggy and sometimes looked wrinkled.  I tried placing it closer to the light, then further away.  No blooms.  I watered it more or less.  I transferred it to a larger container.  Nothing. More years passed.  This plant kept on but remained flower-less.

As I mentioned, my dad died this past December.

In February, after 13 years,  this plant started to bud then pop pink flowers!  It's still blooming. The flowers, slowly opening these past few weeks, are making their way around the circumference of the plant.

It's possible that there's a logical reason for why these flowers suddenly decided to appear after such a long dormancy, but I don't have one.

My father died at age 88.  He was a complicated, damaged soul, who found peace in the garden.

I plan to write a whole lot more about him.


  1. What an eerie yet beautiful story and of course you know I believe in stuff like that...


    And I think Women in Bed is one of the best short story collection titles I've ever heard. Cannot wait to read it!


  2. Jessica, I *think* that's what we in the south call a Christmas cactus, and I also think that what is supposed to help it bloom is to put it in complete darkness for some period of time, the right time of year.

    I think it is both beautiful and fascinating and synchronicitous that after several dark months after your father's death it has come into full and luxurious bloom.

    What a metaphor and awakening!

    Given that I am big on signs and omens ( :) ) I also suspect it is your father giving his blessing to your writing about him.

    I am glad I gave a little prod this morning - what a wonderful blog post you have written!!

  3. Robin,
    Thanks for such an effusive comment. You're one of my favorite writers out there, and I am thrilled that your latest, Daddy Left Me Alone With God (DLP Books), is available both in print and in "e" formats.

    Billie-Again, thank you for inspiring me today to speak about this event going on in my home.

    More applause for your latest offering on Kindle--The Meaning of Isolated Objects. Wonderful.

  4. What a lovely story. Gardening is such a powerful metaphor -- bringing things to life, to flower.

    And yes, that is a Christmas cactus.

    My parents recently left their home of 46 years, which had a greenhouse attached to it. They gave away most of their plants, but kept a vine of my grandmother's, which my mother had been holding onto since my grandmother's death in 1968. What a potent reminder of the way that our family lives on in us.

  5. I love this story and Gail's story of her grandmother's vine. How such things tie us together. If I ever have a garden my grandchildren enjoy as much as my kiddos enjoy my mother's garden, I'll consider myself very lucky indeed. I have a lot of work to do to ever get to that point, though!

    Funny thing about this post, Jessica: My mother-in-law had three Christmas cacti at the end of this past holiday season and turned them all over to me (one big, two small) and I've been meaning to look up again how best to care for them. Thanks for the timely reminder; I'll be sure to let you know if I ever get them to bloom. So glad you're enjoying your dad's beautiful gift. Hugs, K.

  6. Hi, Karen.
    Just to show you how un-green my thumb is, I really had no clue how well-known these Christmas Cacti seem to be--Thanks for your story and for seeing the power in my dad's gift.
    And, yes. I want to hear when yours bloom.

  7. I see both you and the plant blooming in wonderfully unpredictable and astonishing ways these past couple of months. Clearly, the gardener is blessing you.


  8. Patry,
    Your words brought on the tears.
    "The gardener is blessing you"--that did it.

  9. That is a great story--the dead really do speak to us. So glad to see you writing here again--I've missed your thoughtful, gentle and interesting posts.

  10. Hi, Jennifer.
    I've missed you, too.
    I'm glad you've been happily busy with your new store: Country Weekend. "Nature & history in a small store in the Catskills."

    Here's the link to Jen's beautiful store:

  11. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. What a lovely story. In the months following my dad's death, I experienced what I came to think of as little winks from him, serendipitous moments that didn't seem to have a logical explanation, but had his name written all over them. Now, six years later, I still get a wink now and then. I'm not sure why or how, but I don't get caught up in the logistics or the science. I just smile through the tears.

    And congratulations on the publication of your short story! I love the name of your collection. Can't wait to read it!

  12. Hi, Sere.
    I love the way you describe these moments as winks. How lovely and sweet, makes me smile. Thanks for reading. Glad you like the title.