Lavale Mills

The African Violets that sit on the window seat at our home are blooming. Profusely blooming. Above the velvety green leaves, deep purple enhancements with tiny yellow centers swirl and look queenly. The blooms are big and beautiful. Sometimes I feel they need more attention than I give them, but if blooming is any indication, they don’t.

I don’t have much of a green thumb, so when I came in possession of these loveliest of house plants, there was great doubt in my mind if they would survive 24 hours in my care. For 11 years, they have responded to my weekly watering and daily pep talks. Yes, I did say “talks.” These pretty little plants originally belonged to Mom. When she placed them in my care, she told me only two things were necessary: weekly watering and daily conversation.

I knew she talked to her violets because I had heard her telling them how pretty they were and how much joy they brought her. Talking to plants was so unlike my mom. She was a “this is the way it is” kind of person who, although very creative, would be the last person you would ever think would talk to plants. She said she read in an article about how house plants responded as much to “caring conversation” as to good care. I, who always could talk to anything from a fence post to people, was skeptical. Still, I had to admit something surely did make those little violets grow and do well and look royal.

There were enough of the plants to fill her kitchen window sill and a row underneath the window, perfectly positioned to catch the morning sun. Mom loved African Violets. Her plants offered not only purple blooms. Some had white blooms and others pink. She watered them at the same time on the same day each week. She had a soft brush that she would use weekly to brush away any dust that settled on the leaves. She would break off large leaves, place them in a cup of potting soil and when they rooted, she would give them away. It was usually “out-of-towners” who came to visit that were given the rooted leaves. All her friends had plants that were as well cared for as hers.

When the ladies in her prayer circle met, the talk would always turn to their African Violets. It was the ambition of Mom and her two best friends to find a violet with white blooms tipped in pink. Neither of them ever did. Maybe in Heaven there are such violets for them to behold … and water weekly … and talk to daily.

After Mom became unable to care for her violets, she bequeathed them to me.

“They are yours now because I can’t tend them anymore,” she said. Her instructions were to water them weekly and talk to them.

“That’s all that you have to do,” she said. And then she continued, “That brushing of the leaves is just something I liked to do, but you don’t have to.”

That was 11 years ago this past March, before Mom passed on June 19.

For some reason I don’t have three colors of blooms anymore, I only have purple. But other than that, Mom’s violets have done great in my care. Sometimes I brush the leaves. I have statues of angles setting among the little pots of blooming beauties. They are a reminder of those who watch over us. That seems to be an altogether fitting and proper decoration for those pretty plants. At least for me.

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