Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bouquets of yellow cactus flowers

First, I'd like to say 'thank you' to all the military veterans who have kept our country and most of the world safe, often giving their lives. My father was a veteran as were many of my relatives. One cousin even survived the Bataan Death March during World War II. On this day of all days, I honor and thank you.

Today is my oldest son's birthday. He's 36 today. Happy birthday, David Scott. Tom 's son, whose 11th birthday is today, happy birthday to you, too.

Today is also my best friend Chili Bob's birthday. He got his card, but I'd like to add a Happy Birthday and thank you for being you wish for his 62nd anniversary on this planet. Chili Bob is an amazing man and it turns out we are related distantly by Princess Nopee who was an Algonquin and lived during the days of Puritans coming to this country. Chili Bob is also related to the Bourbons, the family that ruled France right up to the end when King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were beheaded. Their children survived, as did many of the rest of the family, and Chili Bob is a direct descendant. Since he and I are distantly related that makes me related to the kings of France. Pretty cool when you get right down to it.

One more item up on the calendar today is my interview with Lisa Haselton. It has gone live and is waiting to be read.

This is a morning of contrasts. I'm sitting here eating fresh organic strawberries that taste better than any I've had in a long time, simply delicious, and I'm looking at a gift for my aunt. She loves to garden and has a beautiful back yard garden in which she says she cannot place a single flower or plant, so I'm looking at flowering plants to send her for the holidays and I find Christmas cacti and it takes me back to a Christmas cactus my father loved.

That Christmas cactus had beautiful yellow flowers and he was very proud of it. My middle son Eddie was about two years old and he was entranced by the flowers, drawn to them, and he stared at them for minutes at a time, which is amazing when you consider his age. One afternoon all the beautiful yellow flowers disappeared from the cactus and reappeared in a dirty little hand held out to me to make me smile. Dad wasn't amused and he never let me forget that my son destroyed his cactus. Eddie was devastated and cried his broken little heart out. He wanted to give the pretty flowers to his mom. To him, they were flowers like the daisies and clover he often picked for me.  He didn't know they might not grow back.  They were the only flowers he could find. Snow covered the ground outside and no green poked up through the icy and dirty frozen crust. He wanted flowers to brighten my morning so it made sense to pick the flowers from the cactus. It made sense to him. Dad's house was a jungle of plants and he knew better than to pluck the African violets, but no one told him the Christmas cactus flowers were off limits too. It made sense to him. It didn't make sense to Dad.

The cactus bloomed again the following Christmas. Dad tended the cactus like a sick child, never forgetting -- or letting me forget -- the year Eddie plucked its flowers--nor have I. Of all the bouquets and flowers I've received, those golden cactus blooms are my favorites. Not because they were pretty (they were) or because they were given with my son's smiles and pride at having found flowers for me in the midst of winter. Because the price he paid was in the tears of a child's broken heart for a sin he never realized he had committed.

Now I'm contemplating giving a Christmas cactus to my aunt and I wonder if I should give her the gardenias or something else and give the cactus to Beanie who is so much like Dad. She has most of his plants and she doubtless remembers the story of Eddie's bouquet. It will mean more to her than to my aunt even though my aunt is Dad's sister.

As I eat my warming strawberries and look at flowering gifts to send to a cherished aunt, I can't help wishing for another bouquet of yellow cactus flowers from my son.

No comments: