You know those dishes.
The ones that wait patiently all year long for their time to shine?
Those dishes which have the main purpose of holding the turkey and dressing?
This is the week they get to shine.
We have those special place settings in the Jackson home. For many years it was just a dream of Benny’s to have a set of Spode Woodland dinnerware.
As dreams have a way of doing, his became a reality.
I had been dreaming, too; not of dishes though. My heart loved the mountains and I had been dreaming of a vacation home in Ruidoso where we eloped so many years ago.
My dream manifested before his, and thus the great marriage of a mountain home and Woodland dishes consummated.
And then life happened. Choices happened. Moves happened.
The decision to pack up our lives, sell our vacation home, and move two thousand miles away...happened.
And the dishes waited. They weren’t the ones we grabbed anymore for a sandwich, or a plate of spaghetti. They didn’t rest on the table for a casual dinner with friends. They didn’t hear the laughter from children or gossip from neighbors anymore. They could hear voices through the door of the cabinet they slept in, but the words were muffled and the space was dark.
Another year has come and gone since they were given the task of service. This year will be like the last. Emerging from their slumber, Woodland will dress a new dining room space. It’s a smaller, more cozy place. It’s a smaller guest list, but so beloved. It’s a table of bountiful blessings, cherished family and forever friends.
We will dine, we will laugh, we will unbutton our pants if we forgot to wear the stretchy ones.
We will give thanks.
Paula Estelle Jackson 11-25-2019 written on what would have been my mothers birthday. Photos from 2018
Our plan was not to forget about them.
In fact, quite the opposite.
Benny’s love for flowers extends way past silk and permanent botanicals and reaches all the way back to his childhood.
His grandmother’s green thumb must have been a dominant gene because both he and his sister have a way with plants and flowers.
As a small child Benny would beg to spend time with his grandmother, Dorothy and his real cowboy grandad, Roscoe, as many children do.
But he was different.
Imagine a young four year old boy, when asked what he wants to do while at grandma’s house replying “let’s go to the nursery and buy flowers.”
That’s our Benny.
They would spend hours shopping, planning, hauling, digging, fertilizing, watering and marveling at the return on their efforts.
As an adult, this passion became even stronger, and he would spend most of his days off cultivating beautiful flower beds and pots that would be the envy of the neighborhood.
It’s just who he is.
And so the fact that we had taken the time to move all of our potted orchids to the pool house for the winter meant we completely intended to keep them alive despite their dead appearance.
To look at them you would have thought it better to toss them in the dumpster.
It truly seemed hopeless.
I remember the day I purchased these at the store. It was definitely an impulse buy. And to indulge a little secret about me, I’m pretty frugal. So the mere thought of spending an extra ninety dollars on my grocery tab cause me to pause. But those flowers spoke to me as I entered and I could imagine the delight of taking them home to Benny and watching him adopt them into the family. I knew he would have the perfect place for them to thrive and bring us joy.
In the prime of their life, their little green plastic pots had been surrounded by a beautiful white ceramic cache pot and blanketed with Spanish moss. Their stems had been sturdy but pliable, staked up with a small, iridescent child’s butterfly hair clip. The multiple varieties we enjoyed were pure white with pink centers, fuchsia and hot pink, and each plant had been showing their beauty for months.
As time has a way of doing to all of us, they began to droop a bit. What once was a bright, white bloom became a little brown on the edges. One petal would fall lifeless on the sofa table, and then another. The stem that once proudly stretched to the ceiling with green boldness, was turning brown and brittle—almost stick-like.
We came home from work one day and found their days of bringing us joy were over and now their presence was more of a daily reminder of the brevity of life.
We missed the spot of color they brought. We missed the brightness.
And that was the day we moved them all to the pool house. We weren’t for sure they would bloom again. We had heard rumors, but had never tried it for ourselves.
The thought was that we would go out weekly and place an ice cube in each little pot, speak to them kindly each week and hope to see them again in all their glory.
Months went by. The cold days and busy lives took precedence over the pots waiting silently out back.
We forgot about them.
The once flourishing back yard and pool that summer found to be teaming with laughter and games and yes, skinny dipping, went silent through the winter. The pool house that hosted many friends, margaritas and dance parties, closed her doors like a cocoon to the potted ferns, aloe Vera plants, a lime tree from our year in St Augustine, and yes, those four dead orchids.
The days grew longer and all chances of freezing temperatures faded into the background. Our first day off became planting season for Benny.
We emerged on the cocoon to find a surprise. Amongst all the yellow fern leaves laying on the floor from lack of water and warmth, our little aloe Vera had grown exponentially and the lime tree, despite the neglect, had weathered the winter beautifully.
And nestled in the corner showing signs of life again, were those four orchids. New shoots of green had broken through, roots were taking hold in the dry, hard dirt, and little buds were making their early appearance.
Time. That’s what they needed to come back to life. They needed time.
And hope. That’s what we needed to experience them again. We needed hope.
As The Good Book says...
There is a time for everything
A season for everything under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to uproot.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build.
A time to weep and a time to laugh.
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them.
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
And I might add...a time for hope. Always hope.
Paula Estelle Jackson January 3, 2020
Bible verse Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
HUMOR-IST (is that a word?) I can find and expel (the word expel makes me think of passing gas) humor in most moments of life