So much life is contained in such small things. What holds meaning for you?
28, Washington, writer and editor
My mother has been watering the same jade plant since 1974. A succulent that stores water in its leaves, the hardy houseplant predates my birth, her mother’s death and the day she met my father on a bus clambering down Manhattan’s Second Avenue.
My mother found it on a table at an outdoor crafts fair on New York’s West Side, just 1.5 inches in a clay pot. Its supple green stem grew thick, brown and trunk-like with time. Now, it is three feet tall and leans forward like a hunchback.
When I was a young child, before the past held any meaning to me, the plant appeared to be merely decorative. Its beauty diminished next to the cascades of orchids beside it. So a friend and I felt nothing ripping off its fleshy oval leaves while pretending we were ticket takers at a movie theater.
When my mother saw that we had scalped her plant, tears filled her eyes. An incomprehensible sadness overcame me. “Never mind,” she said. Though she wasn’t sure the plant would survive, she tried to comfort me by saying, “The leaves will grow back.” She kept watering it and waiting. Slowly, the glossy leaves returned.
By the time she cut off a few stems to propagate the plant for me — years later — I understood how the jade’s still presence grounded her as everything around her was changing. As I come to know love and loss as an adult, I find solace in my plant, which was given life from hers. Both jades stretch toward the sunlight.
Tell us what you treasure and why: E-mail 250 words or fewer to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use “MINE” in the subject line, and include age, city and job.
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