I used to be known as having a "brown thumb"--y'know, like the opposite of a "green thumb." i killed my houseplants. ALWAYS. no exception. it wasn't until all these years later that i realized that i actually DO have a green thumb; i just had lousy lighting. whichever windows had the decent lighting to encourage growth, they also had a radiator in front of them. naturally, the heat from the radiator, no matter how often i'd water the plants, dried them out and in some cases cooked them brittle.
knowing that any house plant i bought was doomed to certain demise, i used to go the rack, "Reduced for Quick Sale" and buy any little pathetic and puny plant that begged me for a home. i delighted in caring for those poor green-orphans. if any of them responded with a new green shoot, i'd jump for JOY. on the other hand, if they brittled-up and browned, i'd console myself with the remembrance that they were practically dead when i bought them and i just prolonged their life with a little love first.
but, as i look now, i am SO thrilled to see my African Violets in full bloom! but, truly it is a bittersweet love. while i'm thrilled at their brilliance of deep purple, with that teensy little dab of sunshine-yellow in the middle----hmmm, i wonder if God planned them that way because purple and yellow are complementary colors on the color wheel?? anyway, whenever i see beautiful blooming African Violets i cannot help thinking of my mother-in-law, who is presently with our Lord. talk about a sweet, dear lady; mommom was all that and a whole lot more.
she knew i loved violets and she also knew that i had a hard time keeping plants alive. one year, which i will never forget, she gave one of the most loving, generous Christmas gifts i could've EVER hoped to receive! her African Violets. all of them! i even went and got one of those grow-lights with the special ultra-violet lights perfect for the violets and set aside a special place for them on my server shelf in the dining room. no radiators. no cooking of these plants. i was gonna do it right because i knew what a sacrifice it was for her to give up these "babies."
they did real well and blessed me with lots of flowers, and were remaining in good health. then, well, then....and oh! it pains me to remember. (excuse me while i get a kleenex....sniff. ok, just joshing; it was too long ago to cause that. but at the TIME....)
one day as i was doing a good thorough cleaning (it was back in the day when spring and fall housecleaning were in style. ever since women started working outside the home, instead of seasonally, they spent every weekend cleaning thoroughly! i remember once, a "thousand years ago" my mom asked me if i'd finished my fall housecleaning. i told her that my schedule was off and that i did in fact, finish. but i wasn't certain if i had finished my fall housecleaning early, or was it my spring housecleaning late? that's when i decided to do away with those old fashioned terms and just do the best i could with what time i could invest.)
ANY way! it was a beautiful sunny day, so while i worked on cleaning the dining room that day, i thought i'd place all my plants out on the front step for a dose of fresh air and sunshine before bringing them back inside under the "fake" light. (about now....if you know anything about African Violets, you might be going for that kleenex!) violets do NOT like hot sun! well, WHO KNEW??!!! (obviously not me!) when i went out later to bring them all in, the hot sun had literally burnt all the leaves brown, and crumbled and scorched the plants so terribly that they all (ALL!!!) very soon afterward, met their demise.....and left me, somehow, having to explain the situation to mommom. i'm not sure which one of us was more upset and sad.
obviously she forgave me and still loved me...she just never trusted her violets to me after that! she DID let me look at her's when they were in bloom. "just look, don't touch." it did nothing at the time to put to rest my brown-thumb reputation.