(the word of the day is BAMBOO)
Having lived this long, I find myself looking at my existence and pausing once in a while to take inventory. I am very much a creature of sentiment. You would know this if you had been in my basement. I have a hard time letting go of things, as my children and husband can attest. Heck, I even hang onto plants that have begged me over and over again to let them die. My friend Cindy would have been able to tend and nurture my plants to full health, but that’s not the kind of living I have given my poor plants. Basically I am down to the never-say-die philodendrons that forgive me when two weeks pass and I haven’t watered them. They droop their leaves over the edge of their tables, gasping for air, and when I pass them and notice I give them a nice big drink and they perk right up by the end of the day. So their stems are a little spindly, they’re alive, aren’t they?
I have a fear that my children have learned too much from me. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to live this long. Long enough to see my children become adults. Long enough to see they are not me, at least not too much me. My poor grandmother never did get to see my mother rise from adolescence.
I take great pleasure in watching my kids paint their own life stories on their own canvases. My Kate stretched her arm as she swept her brush across the page of her life, and the painting grew beyond the sweet safe page of home and found her in Hong Kong as a missionary then in Houston as a teacher. With a fresh degree in Linguistics and International Studies, she was selected to join Teach for America and serve underprivileged children in Houston Texas. We moved her down there, everything she owned packed into our van. We drove 27 hours southward, through the desert, past buttes and vast plateaus of deep red rock and endless sky. She had found an apartment, and a roommate who was also a Teach for America corp member. Craigslist and Ikea and WalMart combined to furnish and supply their cupboards with all the essentials, and then we zipped our way back north to our obligations back home. It’s a hard thing to see someone you love shrinking in the rear view mirror.
I flew back to Houston to visit later that year. I walked through her front door into that vaguely familiar space. The same couch and table were there. But it thrills me still to see in my mind the fabulous shading and coloring that she added to the canvas of her home. I walked through her bedroom, all crisp and tasteful, into her bathroom. On the counter top, next to her sink, was a thin rectangular glass vase with glass beads and a lovely bright green bamboo plant twisting up in front of her mirror. I remember thinking at that moment that my little Kate had defined herself by herself, and it was purposeful and beautifully spare and oh so lovely. I don’t read more into it than it is. Just her choice in plants. But the thing that makes me feel…oh, I don’t know…maybe the word is fulfilled… is that she is not me. She does not have a never-say-die philodendron on her counter. She found her own voice in her own song, filling her own space.