The Hibiscus

When and why she became interested in the hibiscus she still doesn’t know. But she did. At first she gave hibiscus plants to her Mother who loved them but admitted that she had difficulty keeping them alive.

On her first trip out of the States, other than brief journeys to Mexico and Canada, a strange attraction developed between this woman and a hired driver in Bali. The group with whom she was traveling had hired this young man to drive them to various locations.

On the final leg of their trip, the group began to load luggage and prepare for the last trip before heading home to the States. As she approached the van, one of her traveling companions stopped her, and with a Cheshire cat smile said, “You’re sitting in front.”

To this she responded with a puzzled look and queries, “What?”

At that moment the young man approached her and guided her to the seat next to him. But before he helped her climb into the van, he presented her with a magnificent hibiscus flower which he placed in her hair.

When she finally decided to stop being a co-dependent to her daughter and moved to the Southwest, one of the first plants she bought for her apartment was a hibiscus. In fact, she purchased two!

She watched as small blooms began to appear, never more than one or two at a time.

The first bloomed slowly, opening its fragile petals. It was so beautiful! It reminded her of the one in Bali.

The next day the flower had shriveled into a broken down has been.

It was then she began to learn that if one loved the Hibiscus, one must also learn to appreciate its growth cycle. And so, she continued to pay heed to what happened on a daily basis with her treasured plants.

Several years later she was watching once again the anticipated opening of the beautiful flower. She planned to take a picture of it and perhaps even try painting from the photograph. Not that she was an artist—far from it! But she had been inspired from the Georgia OKeeffe florals.

The grand opening happened earlier than she expected. She had no film, and because of the day’s schedule purchasing new film would have to wait. She spoke to the flower telling her – and it was a her for this woman – how beautiful she was. She pleaed with the flower to hold out for another day.

Coming home that evening with new film for her camera, she loaded the cartridge and rushed into the bedroom where the hibiscus resided.   The magnificent bloom was now a shriveled mess. Not wanting to dwell on things she could not control, her inward voice said, “There will be more.” And of course there would be. But it was then she was struck with the idea that this flower, this giving birth, this watching the growth process, this, “I can’t wait for when you’re ready.” concept was in fact what life was all about. And like THE LITTLE PRINCE and his rose, she realized her hibiscus was also special.

Special just as each child, each grandchild was special. She did decide however not to call her daughter with a lecture on the “moments” of a child’s life and how her daughter would regret being too busy to see these things. Nor would she reveal the impact that shriveled flower had on herself.

She too had bloomed and now was in that final stage.


Not so much laughter……..

Topic assignment: Laughter           Read in Terry Wilson’ writing class 11/13/14


george-tateI am not laughing. I’m sad. George Tate passed away, and I did not have time in the last year to contact him. For a year on my “to do list” I have had “write note to Ann and George”. But I didn’t because I didn’t know what to write. All of this stemming from what should have been a good documentary that could be used in teaching. Instead it was a bust.

Most of all I am saddened that over two years I have not had contact with two people with whom I used to be close.

So since the topic is laughter….I will talk about George and his laughter. I have many hours of video which couldn’t be used because they preferred it to be on their intercultural marriage. And so, I obliged.

But, I can still see and hear George as he told his many many stories of his life. So many they are hard to recall. I remember especially the one when Martin Luther King came to the city of Chicago and the infamous Mayor Daley gave him the key to the city. The previous evening Dr. King had gathered a small group of friends who were activists in the community. George Tate was one of them. As George told the story they were all teasing Martin about being so important and would he remember them when. Then Martin got serious and told his small group that he had invited them deliberately for that reason. He said fame does things to people and he wanted each of them to vow that if and when they ever saw him drifting from the mission, he expected them to contact him.

George went on to say with his beautiful teeth showing his big smile, his manner of laughing at himself, “Oh Pat, we were so naïve.” “We thought Martin’s visit meant things were really going to go well for us”. “What we came to find out, the minute Martin left the Mayor’s office, Mayor Daley called in all of his various inspectors telling them that apparently there were a number of local ministers who had too much time on their hands. He ordered all inspectors to go to their churches and find problems with the buildings.

Another story George told was how he and a group of the protestors went to Marshall Field’s in the heart of Chicago. They drank out of the fountains marked “For white only”. They were reprimanded, “Can’t you see the sign?” “Sorry sir, can’t read,” George responded.   George had a PhD.

George was a humble man not one filed with rage and anger. Perhaps it was his age or perhaps because he was raised by and became one, a minister.

No one who has ever known George can not help but remember his soft, gentle, laughter. He was truly a great man. And now, I smile as I think that perhaps he and our mutual friend, George Manner are strolling the heavens together reminiscing over the old times at SFCC.

I can feel the sadness leaving me. I can see that smile.

I love you George….may you rest in peace.