More than 100 years ago, a young man brought a young woman a begonia on their first date. It was a humble gift, but a successful one. They would be married for many years, and have five children.
Those two were my great grandparents. Clippings from the plant were passed along to friends and family with the story; some 60 years later, my Grandmother Maxine nursed the plant to amazonian proportions on her shady Tucson patio.
Today, my mother is the plant’s keeper. Big bouquets of it grow in my parents’ home, as only plants do under the care of my mom’s green thumb. Friends in San Antonio have been given small, flowering pots. One day, I hope to include a few leaves in my wedding bouquet.
My grandmother’s legacy will always be one of love and authentic sentimentality. Handwritten notes. Birthday calls. Sincere thoughtfulness. She never asked how you were without expecting you to sit down and tell her, until she was satisfied with enough detail.
Like the heirloom begonia, her spirit will live on far past the Pennsylvania farm soil she first called home.
My grandmother passed away yesterday, peacefully. She was not in pain. This has been left to those who survived her. We struggle to find grace, knowing she is with her parents, and the four siblings and many friends who went before her.
I’ve long chronicled the beautiful friendship we shared. Her surprise 80th birthday was one of my favorite memories. Also, I will always cherish the postcard she sent me from Morocco a few years ago; her first trip to Europe and she was sure to cross the sea to see Africa too. She knew I’d appreciate her adventurous spirit. I will carry it with me always.
I love you Grandma Max. Thank you for everything you taught us. May your legacy live on in us.