My older friend gave me the clivia plant. I’d never heard of a clivia before. I met Bill at the Senior Center. He showed me pictures of his clivia in bloom and we talked about it. He always sat at the table nearest the entry way and when it was time for us to be quiet for the announcements and the table grace, he would jangle the little bell that sat in front of his place setting.
I talked to him often as I arrived at the Center and found that he was very interested in growing plants, and especially his clivias. His daughter had bought him his first bulbs and he had tended them for years. As they grew larger, they would send up baby plants from the roots, and every summer they would bloom these magnificent blooms. He had both orange and yellow blooms. After a while, he gave me two plants and he hoped that he’d been able to give me one of each color. He often asked me if the clivia had bloomed yet and I could never tell him yes.
He had a stroke one winter and fell while he was outdoors in the cold of winter. He had to go into a nursing home then and though he did all he could to regain his strength and use of his hands, he never got back to live at his home. I visited him at the nursing home every week and we laughed together at stories he told from his past or tales I told about my life. And often, he asked me about my clivias. He so much wanted to know if he’d given me both colors, as he’d hoped.
Several years ago, he died, before Easter, and, after his death, the larger of the two plants bloomed and it is orange. I called his daughter and we talked about it and how I wished I could tell her father that it bloomed. She felt sure that her dad knows about it blooming and it was a comfort to her that the plant bloomed so soon after his death.
The second plant is still growing larger and stronger and still has no signs of putting up a bloom, but every years since that first bloom, the first plant has bloomed in February. The bloom lasts for several weeks. I enjoy seeing it begin to bloom and enjoy its beauty as it unfolds. I regret that it can’t have blooms all summer but I do enjoy seeing it while it lasts. I still have some hopes that the second plant will be yellow. I think that some clivias bloom in summer. Maybe my second plant will bloom this year. It’s very healthy and is so much bigger than when Bill gave it to me. (Apparently these plants take a long time to mature enough to bloom, or send up shoots from the roots. I have had no baby plants from them yet, but surely some day!)
I still visit in the nursing home, and usually think of Bill as I go there. He was always so happy to see me and made me feel that each visit was a gift to him. It means a lot to me to have this pretty plant that he gave me. It’s a beautiful reminder of Bill, — in a tangible way.