I have a black thumb.

I kill plants. It’s a gift, really. I honestly can’t keep any type of plant alive. I just forget about them, and they die of thirst. The only plant I was somewhat able to keep alive was a climbing ivy that I had next to my desk at work. And the only reason that plant survived was because every day I would dump the remnants of my water cup from the day before into it each morning (99% of the time this was water; a few times it was seltzer and maybe ONE time it was ginger ale).

Because of this, we had serious doubts about me keeping a human alive before Little Mister came along. (NOTE to DCF: he is just fine, and I have never forgotten to feed or water him).

Needless to say, we don’t have many plants at our house. Or if we do (like our very large garden), I’m not in charge of them. It’s just better that way.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t TRIED to raise plants.


I’d like to introduce you to Rita the Christmas cactus. Rita was a gift to my grandmother Rita when she was in hospice a few years ago. It sat in her windowsill and was blooming beautifully at a time when my grandma Rita’s days were probably a little gloomy. After she died, I took Rita the plant home, as a reminder of the real Rita.

Unfortunately, I just about killed Rita. I sort of remembered to water her, but she didn’t bloom in the spring when she was supposed to. So Rita the cactus went to live with my mother-in-law, to mingle with her Christmas cacti who were thriving. That Christmas, Rita bloomed. She also bloomed the following spring, and the winter after that.

This year, when my mother-in-law saw Rita’s very first blooms, the plant came home with me so I could enjoy her pretty flowers. Admittedly, I was nervous. “What do I have to do to take care of her?” I asked.

“Nothing,” my mother-in-law replied.

“Do I have to water her?” I asked nervously. This was usually where my care taking duties fell down.

“Nope. Just enjoy her!”

So, I enjoyed her. Her flowers were a pretty pink and purple this year. She bloomed, and bloomed and bloomed.

Today would have been my Grandmother Rita’s birthday. I’m so happy her namesake cactus is blooming beautifully (no thanks to me), reminding me of the woman my grandmother was: beautiful in a quiet way, blooming when she was comfortable, and not giving up when someone forgot to give her water for 4 straight months.

This post is dedicated to Rita: the Grandma and the plant, who always made life a little brighter and had a thirst for life.

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