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My Green Thumb has Turned Grey

As I got older, like most women I knew there were inevitable changes coming which would tell me I was aging. The big one of course was the end of my period. It is most odd to have a period every month since you were 13 and then to see them gradually taper off and then cease. I have to tell you: I was ecstatic! Good riddance! I was so happy to be done with that part of my life. However, I recently went to the store and passed the tampon aisle. For a moment, I began wistfully remembering my cycle until I remembered that with it came the possibility of pregnancy and then immediately, I felt euphoric and mumbled to myself with a smirk: Good riddance indeed!!

I noticed other things which also signaled I was getting older. I needed bi-focals, would gain weight if I even looked at ice cream and it took me longer to recover after working out at the gym. Another big one of course was sometimes growing hair in places it definitely was not wanted: on my chin. I began waxing to keep those errant hairs under control. I recently hit a new low, even for me. Before going out to special events, I sometimes will point my face in my husband’s direction, tilt my chin upward and ask: “Do you see any hair on my face?” The first time I did this, he looked alarmed, befuddled, totally out of sorts. After a moment he regained his composure, looked in my direction with concern in his eyes and gamely responded, uh…no…I don’t. Now he seems used to the routine and immediately looks, answers and returns to his prior activity. Trust me, there is nothing sexy about this routine. These signs of aging, though not welcome, were certainly expected. Although my mother and older sisters prepared me well, something quite unexpected happened recently which made me even more aware of my aging. Something apparently no one else close to me associated with aging and thus would not consider it of importance.

I love plants. I have them all over my house; been told I have a bit of a green thumb. If I do have one, I got it from my Aunt Irene, my father’s sister.

When I was a young girl, I would often go to visit her. She lived a few streets over from us. Aunt Rene, as we called her, had a screened-in porch. There was nothing on the porch but rows and rows of plants. Aunt Rene’s porch really looked like a greenhouse. She had all kinds of plants, including snake plants, peach lilies, English ivy, spider plants and philodendron on every available surface. Aunt Rene’s plants were so perfect and healthy that from a distance they didn’t look real. But they were. When I went to her house I immediately felt calmer just seeing an abundance of greenery all around me. While she briefly would engage in mischievous conversations about the female anatomy and what to expect when I was old enough to date (I’m pretty sure my mom did not know she was sharing such details with me!), she spent a lot of our time together talking about her plants. Aunt Rene would tell me the signs to look for to determine when one needed water and what to look for if they needed to be repotted or moved to a different spot.

When I grew up and moved into my first apartment after college, I could barely afford my share of the rent but could not resist picking up discounted plants anytime they were on sale. I was confident when buying the sickly-looking plants because I knew Aunt Rene had taught me well. While I didn’t have furniture in that apartment, the plants provided me untold comfort in very lean times. I felt rich in my spirit. Back to my recent realization on aging. I have always tried to follow the example set by Aunt Rene and take good care of my plants. I really was doing a good job until I started experiencing episodes of “senioritis”. Like Aunt Rene, I meticulously followed a memorized schedule for watering and feeding my plants. I talked to them and followed the schedule without fail. My plants thrived. People would visit my home and “oh” and “ah” over so much greenery. I would look on with pride.

However, lately I noticed that my plants didn’t look so healthy. I was having difficulty remembering when I watered one and when another needed plant food. My plants looked sad, like I had let them down. Just as I had to acknowledge there was hair growing out of my chin that I could no longer avoid, I had to acknowledge that I could no longer independently remember my schedule for tending to all my plants. I now keep a detailed journal to tell me when I last watered Queen and when Joe is due for plant food. It’s working well but I feel like I let Aunt Rene down.


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