Violets and Memories I Cannot Cilantro
I only knew one grandparent. All the others died either long before or right after I made my appearance in the world.
Luckily, my friends’ grandparents stood in. I cannot see a violet without thinking of Mrs. Godwin, a childhood friend’s grandma. She would make us giggling girls snacks for slumber parties. She hosted numerous lunches, dinners and sundry intrusions with the patience of Job. When my friend and I decided to paint her bedroom, she made sure we had enough to eat and drink well into the wee hours. She kept us full, and she made us laugh.
Prior to her taking an interest in me, I murdered every houseplant that came within the bounds of the house. It was almost like I had a sickening cilantr-ish aura that zapped any plant life that dared to cross my path. While I was determined to grow a violet that would produce an actual bloom, I killed plant after plant, oblivious to what combination of errors were inducing floral death.
Patiently, my foster grandma taught me how to keep a violet alive, and how to make it bloom. The memory of her violets perched around the house still put mine to shame. They were competition worthy creatures that mysteriously bloomed repeatedly and abundantly, never seeming to tire of looking lovely.
Before she forgot everything on the slippery slope into Alzheimer’s, she sat me down and schooled me in all she could remember about growing a decent violet. She showed me how to water them properly (a plastic bowl in the bottom with some rocks for drainage), how often to fertilize them (every single time, in the water), and where to put them for the perfect amount of light (indirect light but a bright, sunlit room or window.)
As an adult, people give me violets as gifts, and they are all over the front rooms of my house, where the light is just right. They are preening themselves right now, bursting with blooms. My surrogate grandma lives in every one of them, and I know, were she still here, she would be singularly proud of me.