musings from Canadian author Cheryl Cooke Harrington ... home of The Write Spot

Monday, September 04, 2006

just like Mom

The last few days have felt more like late October than early September here in Toronto—cold, rainy, and dull. But I'm in vacation mode and looking for a little tropical warmth! I found it yesterday on an afternoon ramble through the greenhouses at Centennial Park Conservatory. (Photos on Flickr.) This Bird-of-Paradise rates as the most spectacular sight in the greenhouse, but most memorable, for me, has to be the venerable old jade plant.

I first encountered the big jade on a visit to the Conservatory with my mother. It was May 20, 2001. The date is important, although we didn't know it at the time. You see, it was one day before a massive stroke nearly took Mom's life, and it would be our last chance for a stroll in the park together. I remember we were both awed by the giant jade, its main trunk as big around as my leg, its branches heavy with masses of glomy jade plant - grown from a single leafssy green. I pocketed a single fallen leaf, placed it on a fresh bed of potting soil when I got home, and watched it root and grow over the long months Mom spent in hospital. In a way, it became a symbol of hope, its growth/her recovery. Well, Mom's still hanging on, we still spend pleasant afternoons together. She doesn't remember our walk in the Conservatory, but she enjoys the third generation jade plant on her window sill at the nursing home. And my single leaf is now a healthy specimen, nearly 18 inches tall.

Unfortunately, the original venerable jade hasn't fared so well. If I had to guess, I'd say some thoughtless visitor vandalized it. (I base this on the number of names brutally carved into the leaves of a nearby yucca.) But whether it was pushed over, or whether it toppled under the weight of its own branches, the old plant no longer stands proud. Its trunk, split open when it fell, is now a barren mass of scars. Its remaining limbs rest on the ground. But new growth, like hope, springs toward the light. Venerable jade. Stubborn and determined...just like Mom.


At 9:48 pm, Anonymous Kate I said...

Cheryl, I know how much these seemingly little things can come to mean to us when they have such precious memories. My mom died 2 years ago and I've found it's things like the rose bush that she bought me just before she died or her old sketch book, that are my treasured memomento's. If you go into archives in my blog, and click on one of my earliest posts called "yes mom, life does goes on" there's a piece that I wrote on my mom with a scrapbook page.

hope it warms up for you in TO for the rest of your holiday!


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