Wednesday, January 14, 2015
My father died six years ago in January, on the first day of spring classes. It was actually on January 7th, which is not the first day of classes every year, but I loved my father and I have always loved the first day of classes, and they are now forever linked in my heart.
I was thinking of him today, in the main because it was the first day of spring classes, but also because I moved a corn plant (Dracena fragrans) that someone gave us at his funeral, from our bedroom downstairs to my study upstairs. There is a north window where it will finally get all the bright, indirect light it has deserved for lo, these many years.
It is a tough plant, and has defied all my attempts to neglect it. When we received it, it was just a little two foot mite, but now it is is five feet tall if it is an inch, and putting out new leaves like who laid the chunk.
I have no idea where the phrase "like who laid the chunk" comes from or what it actually means, but it was a favorite of my dad's, and when he used it, his eyebrows were always raised and he meant "more than you could ever imagine, Horatio." Or something like that.
The family got a lot of live plants for his funeral, most of which were kalanchoes, but one of which was this silly corn plant. I was the one chosen to take home all the live plants, because, supposedly, I am a gardener (though not a houseplant person, which is actually a different species altogether), and it was assumed that I would know what to do with them. (Snort! I didn't even know what these plants were. I had to look them up--not that it did me any good.) Well, as you might expect, the kalanchoes all gave up the ghost in short order, because, as it turns out, houseplants require, you know, watering and shit. That is to say, they require attention from a houseplant-person (see above, in re, not necessarily a gardener).
But not, apparently, corn plants. They just trundle along in their dark corners of inadequate light, sans water, sans fertilizer, sans anything at all, waiting patiently for their annual spate of pathetic-houseplant-person attention. All it ever seemed to ask from me was no direct light and an occasional "last dregs from the glass of water," and in those things I was happy to oblige. When I thought of it.
Note to people who plan to give live plants to bereaved families: Corn plants. Not kalanchoes. Kalanchoes are lovely, but they require, you know, watering and shit.
Anyway, today on this anniversary of sorts, I moved the corn plant upstairs, re-did the stakes that prop up its leggy stems, gave it an actual watering--and get this, fertilizer!--and danged if it doesn't look happy to me.
I miss you, Dad. Wish you were here so I could tell you about the corn plant and how it is being a tough little nut, resistant to all neglect, like who laid the chunk.