BY: Charles Sacchetti
When my dad, Henry, passed away on October 16th, 2004, at the age of 91, our loss was met with a wonderful outpouring of love and condolences. Family and friends showed their compassion in a number of wonderful ways. One example that I will always remember was receiving a sympathy “dish garden” from my employer. The garden consisted of a variety of houseplants, beautifully arranged in a large, glass bowl.
Among the plants, a small African violet took its place amid God’s lovely creations. As the days went by, it became clear to me that the little plant needed a change of scenery. It was too cramped surrounded by the others and, for it to flourish, it needed to “branch out” on its own, so to speak.
I had a history with African violets. My mother, Catherine, who passed away a few years before at 94, had the proverbial “green thumb.” Her exploits in this area were legendary throughout the family. She once planted a lemon seed in a pot and ended up with the only three-foot lemon tree in southwest Philly. She would have herbs growing in her kitchen throughout the year. Her gardenias would fill the house with the most wonderful fragrance. However, her first love was her African violets. Mom had a way of “rooting” the stems and transplanting the rooted stem into the soil. From that procedure, a new plant would sprout. The process took months. I am proud to say that I learned her technique and used to love watching her take care of them and talk to them. Thankfully, it was always a one-way conversation!
So, after transplanting Dad’s African violet plant into its own pot, I took care of it by giving it a western exposure in my office window, watering it every three or four days, and feeding it a Miracle-Gro solution every few weeks. Its progress was uncanny. In fact, it did so well that, in about a year, I decided to use it as a “host” plant and try Mom’s rooting process. My plan was to help the plant reproduce in this manner and, should I be successful, give away any new plants to family and friends. I saw this as a way to honor both Mom and Dad; to keep their memories alive through the baby plants and the beautiful blue violets, some of God’s loveliest blooms, that would certainly someday appear.
The rooting process was simple, but a bit painstaking. First, I had to ensure that the host plant was healthy enough to provide a good, strong stem to act as the “Mother” leaf. Secondly, the stem must then be placed in water for a period of four to six weeks before it would produce enough little roots from its bottom. At that time, the root system would be developed adequately enough for the stem to be transplanted into good soil in a clean pot. During the rooting process, the water level had to always be kept up. Then it took at least two months before the first baby leaf sprouted up through the soil, making the host leaf officially a mommy! Sometimes the baby leaf never developed, and I’d have to start the process all over again.
Happily, I was successful on my first attempt. I gave the new plant to my sister, Kathy, and it now rests prominently on the plant stand in her dining room. My second attempt failed. Many successes and a few failures followed over the next eight years, and I was happy to share the new plants with loved ones. Just after Christmas, 2011, I decided to try again. It was a joyful time for us, as our daughter-in-law was pregnant with our second grandson. The new baby was due to arrive in March to join his brother, who was then 2 ½. On March 7th, I transplanted the well-rooted stem into the new soil pot. Knowing it would take a minimum of two months for the first baby leaf to appear, I made sure to water it regularly and keep an eye on it as it sat upon my office windowsill.
About two weeks later, on March 20th, our new grandson joined the clan. He was welcomed with more than a few open arms as he made his arrival. Upon returning from the hospital, I went about my normal chores. I was going to have to water the stem in the pot, since I didn’t do so the day before, after checking on the dampness of the soil. When I picked up the pot, I had to rub my eyes in disbelief, for looking right back at me was the transplanted leaf in addition to a brand-new baby leaf, just sprouted! I yelled out jubilantly. My wife, Luann, heard from upstairs, and she was ready to call 911 until I explained what had happened.
She didn’t believe me.
That stem had only been in the soil for barely two weeks. It always takes at least two months for the baby leaf to sprout. The arrival of the baby leaf coincided with the arrival of our new baby boy, so the Lord provided two gifts on that day. Of course, that new plant went to our son and his wife, and our memories of Henry and Catherine live on by way of those beautiful African violets.
Charles Sacchetti is the author of two books, It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change and Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch. Both are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online outlets. Contact him at Worthwhilewords21@gmail.com