Papa’s plant is blooming.
My maternal grandfather, Papa Werner, died from pancreatic cancer in 2003. I remember this period in my life really well as there were a lot of important things happening. I bought my first house just months before he passed. Just weeks after he passed I met Benjamin.
After his funeral I took one of the live plants given to the family: a peace lily. I’ve no idea who gave it, but it’s been “Papa’s plant” ever since. It has travelled from Littlefield to Austin to 2 different places in Denver and finally up to Seattle. Often in those moves it had other plant company, but Papa’s plant is the only one still with me.
Papa Werner was a generous, hard-working man, loving man with a ready smile. I can still see him telling me a story, being interrupted and corrected by my grandmother, and him smiling at me with that “she always thinks she’s right” smile. I remember trips to the lake with him, early morning fishing, and getting pulled around the lake behind the boat.
Papa’s plant has had some rough spots since its trip from Littlefield. It thrived in Austin, but fared poorly in Denver — it was simply too dry I think. I had a scare last year when I left my blinds open on a trip out of town and the plant in the sun. It was a very wilty plant when I got back. Luckily after a lot of water it was back to normal. Papa’s plant is resilient and tenacious – just like my grandfather.
I never came out to Papa. I don’t think he would have taken it well. He had very strong opinions that men shouldn’t have long hair or wear earrings – and I imagine being gay would have been in his “not ok” column too. When I came out to my Granny she said Papa would have loved me no matter what. And no one knew my Papa better than she did.
Papa’s plant has never bloomed since the funeral. I’m fully aware that the plant blooming now has no spiritual significance, just all the right factors to favor that biological response.
It’s been almost exactly 9 years and Papa’s plant is blooming.