Last year I bought my mother an orchid for Mother's Day. It was a very good-looking specimen, flush with buds and healthy green leaves. Some of the buds had already opened, and the bloom was an unusual color that I've never seen before (and can't name). I took the plant to mama's nursing home and set it on the chest where she could see it when she was in bed.
It was a good choice for a nursing home plant because the staff didn't need to take care of it. I watered it when I visited and if I forgot, no problem: orchids are very forgiving of being underwatered. It bloomed for several months and mama got a lot of enjoyment from it, although she never claimed it as her own. When I visited her, she would say, "Look, your orchid is still blooming!"
When it stopped blooming in late summer, I took it home with me for its rest period. I clipped back the bloom stalks to a node. This kind of pruning had resulted in a quick (although light) rebloom for me in the past. My intention was to take it back to the nursing home when new buds developed.
But the buds were slow to appear, and my mother died in October. As winter approached, the orchid began to develop buds, and one day last week, the first flower appeared.
Seeing this orchid bloom is bittersweet. It makes me miss my mother. I think about how she would enjoy seeing these blooms, and how, just last year, this same plant gave her pleasure. These blooms also remind me that we leave something of our own lives in every life we touch, even the life of a plant.