Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jade People

It was an exciting time twenty years ago when we moved into our house.  It was our first house, purchased from an older couple we had gotten to know over the buying process.  They left behind their refrigerator, their gardening tools, and a few assorted plants.  We moved our possessions in and started our family life. 

I was so busy with school, kids, and work in those next few years, I barely even noticed the jade plant the former owners had left on the back patio.  Since it was a succulent, I figured it didn’t really require much attention.  Even when its pot broke, the victim of a speeding soccer ball, I didn’t do anything and the plant still survived.

Over the years, life got even more active.  I like to muse about all the action the jade plant saw from its post on the patio.  I scurried about, taking care of kids, going to meetings, working full-time, entertaining when I could, trying to keep the house in order and my sanity somewhere in the vicinity too.  From its vantage point on the patio, it witnessed all those years, saw all the birthday parties happening on the other side of the glass, watched the children get older each year, and witnessed as our family meals went from four people, to three, to two, to one.

About a year ago, I was over at a friend’s house and I saw her jade plant, a towering, healthy beast of a plant in a beautiful planter.  I noticed she had an automatic watering system running through pot.  I felt the leaves that were glossy and fat. 

I went home and considered my small, neglected jade plant. I fell to my knees and apologized to it.  Then, I repotted it, fed it, and watered it. Within a week, it responded.  The leaves fattened up and took on a rosy glow.  The branches reached out to the sun.  It started to live, not just exist.  Now, it gets a weekly watering and is absolutely thriving.

The other day a friend noticed how beautiful my jade plant was and I told her the story of the plant and how I had finally started to take care of it.  She cited the drought in California and said, “Ah, yes, those jade plants are really seeing us through the drought, aren’t they?  They are still green and hanging in there despite the lack of water.”

I think about the people in our lives who are just like these plants, standing close by, ever-present in our lives.  We take them for granted, doing little to nourish them.  They don’t ask for attention and because they look and act fine we forget to give them the care they deserve.  They do indeed see us through some of the droughts of our lives.

I think about how I was so busy raising my own kids that I sometimes forgot to call my mom.  Now, as a mother with grown children, I know how much a call from one of my sons means.   I think about the brilliant teachers I took for granted.  Didn’t they know they were great?   Now, as a teacher, I know the power of a card with a few words of thanks.  I think of how many times old friends crossed my mind and I thought of them with love.  Now, as I start to lose friends to illness and age, I know I should have let them know how much they meant to me. 

So, I hope you’ll look around and see those people in your life who have always been a part of the landscape.  Maybe you’ve underestimated how much care they need.  It could be your parents, your spouse, your friend, or maybe just that neighbor who always brings in your newspaper when you forget to.

These jade people give us their steadfastness without asking anything in return.  It is up to us to recognize them.   We need to give them space to grow, and an abundance of gratitude and appreciation.  A little sunshine and nourishment from you could be all they need to start thriving.  

Chances are you’ll both flourish and grow.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good point, Betty. Well said. We do take people for granted.

Cranberry Morning said...

Good analogy. :-)

YrHmblHst said...

Another beautifully worded post. Where DOES all that talent come from?!?

Hilary said...

You never fail to find and share life's lessons in the everyday things.

Baby Sister said...

I love your analogies. Thank you for the beautifully written post. Living far away from loved ones has definitely reminded me, yet again, how much I take advantage of them when I'm living around them. It's good to have these reminders occasionally.

Slamdunk said...

Wonderful message Betty in making the connection to the jade plant with those overlooked in our lives. There are certainly those here who have stood by me and I have neglected.

Thanks for challenging us.

Ms. A said...

Where my kids are concerned, I think I feel much like your neglected jade plant. I'm sure my hubby feels much the same where I'm concerned. He's my rock and my hero and I don't show him nearly enough just how much he means to me.

Old Kitty said...

Awww beautiful BB!!! You are wise and wonderful! I know jade plants are sometimes known as "friendship plants" and I never knew why but this post totally explains it beautifully! Thank you!!

Wishing you and yours a fabulous Easter! Take care

Alison said...

Funny, I expected you to write about how you had neglected your own nourishment, since you were so focused on job and family! And now, after being forced to focus on yourself, you too are flourishing.

Leanne said...

Beautiful post, my friend. I have a plant from my fathers wake and funeral in our family room (11 years ago). Just an indoor house plant of some kind - it is often the last on my list for caring for. I'm looking at it now, imagining all that it has seen in it's life. Time to give it some love. :) hugs, my friend.

Leah J. Utas said...

Excellent point. it's easy to forget the ones who don't fuss.

Gigi said...

Wise, wise words Betty. Thanks for reminding me.

Connie said...

Wonderful post, Betty, and so true. Hope you have a lovely Easter weekend!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty - Happy Easter .. and yes it's all those little things helping others or thanking them, remembering them .. a few minutes means wonders.

Have a lovely weekend and I'm sure your sons will call - sure hope so!!

Cheers Hilary

Sally Wessely said...

This post hit me between the eyes in two ways:
1) I thought of those I have neglected, and why I thought it was ok to do so. I wasn't ok, but I thought it was because they were still alive and I was busy.
2) I had new understanding of what I know is going on with my own children when they don't call. I know they think it is ok. It is, but I sure would blossom if they realized they need to call more than they do.

Brilliant post, Betty.

My Mind's Eye said...


Unknown said...

I loved reading this. So interesting. Gives me a lot to think about.