The Uncles

Clarence’s fern…

Dear Rosa,

It’s amazing the things we value. When I look at that photo of you with Mary and little Frank, I can only imagine its importance. It’s all I have of you and I’m so grateful it has survived all these years.

Of treasures I write and simple things. There’s nothing grand about my life – I’ll leave only memories and these stories. As I brushed past my fern today, it jolted me into writing this post. Because, although we have a plethora of ferns that grow in my yard and my driveway’s named “Fern Hollow” this beauty is something altogether different.

This was Clarence’s fern.

A few years ago, I was visiting my brother here in town. His wife, my sweet sister-in-law, asked if I wanted a cutting from one of her plants. Let me back track and tell you that Cheryl has a green thumb like none other does. Plants thrive under her gentle care and this one was enormous.

But a fern? Really?

I’ve just divided it, Cheryl said. You have to every few years or it’ll get too big.

Um, thanks?

She caught my dubious stare and explained.

It was Clarence’s fern. I’ve had it since he died.

But that was 30 years ago!

Her smile said it all. Something so treasured, so important deserved a chance to thrive.

I took the small plant, given by someone who understood – this was all that she had left of Clarence. It was up to me to keep it alive, like she’d done for so many years.

It took a while to learn its rhythms. When to water, when to not. Where to place it so it got the right amount of sun. Imagine my fear when it seemed to be withering and my joy when it launched itself into full growth.

Ah, the dickens that fern has caused.

Birds fly into the window, thinking it’s just a natural part of the forest. I hear that dreaded thump and cringe. At least they’ve all recovered. I’d hate for my fern to be a bird-killer.

It’s showing its michevious side now that it’s reached maturity. Snags my youngest daughter’s hair each time she passes by. When she grumbles, her older sister responds… he’s just giving you a little hug.

So now that bad-boy needs dividing. You might be tempted to ask, will I tackle that job?

Heck, no. I’ll just kill it.

With Christmas eve coming and as Cheryl’s hosting this year, I may just have to bring that beauty with me. I’ll bundle it up in cute fern pajamas, protect it from the snow and cold and beg her to do the dirty deed.

I know that with her gentle touch, Clarence’s fern will live on to torment another generation.

Here’s to you, Clarence. I miss you. I’m so glad a piece of your joy lives on.

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9 thoughts on “Clarence’s fern…

  1. another beautiful writing.It made me remember my Grandma Jahr.You are not going to believe this but I have African violets that she started for me from a leaf.I too have to seperate them every now and again and give them away.People tell me they die when I give them the little plants but I keep giving them away.Grandma gave me the first plant about twenty years ago and I never realized it until I started reading this.Thank you for the memories.Blessings Liz

    1. Isn’t that wonderful! See – you’re another one with that green thumb that keeps living things growing… loved the post on your new grand-baby, Liz – don’t know if my comment took – it sent me off into nether-lands when I tried to leave it. What a beauty- you must be so proud… give that little one a kiss for me, will ya?

  2. This makes me want to go out and buy a hoya plant. It wouldn’t be a “baby” from my Gram’s plant, but it would make me remember her.
    This was a very moving and emotional essay. It’s so important to keep that heritage alive.

    1. I think you should buy that plant – who knows, maybe it’ll be something treasure by one of your grandsons one day… Nice to see you and thanks for the wonderful comment, T’resa!

  3. I can see how that fern would reach out and “grab” your daughter! Reminds me of my Great-Grandmothers ferns from her home, and my Grandmother’s and Mother’s ferns. Haven’t had a fern in the house for a while, might have to just go get one again.

    1. Ferns, I’ve found, are plants with personalities… They let you know when they’re happy and when they’re not! I hope you do get one – they are quite fun to have around.

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