Friday, June 26, 2020

Watering a Dead Plant

I've been watering a dead plant and I can't seem to throw it away. It's not because of apathy or laziness or an unwillingness to admit defeat, it's something else entirely. And while I consider myself a nurturing person, I'm not sure my plants would agree. Only the fighters survive my benign neglect and know to reward my occasional watering by perking up instantly. Anticipating flowers helps a lot. When I see a bud appear, I snap into watering mode, tending to the slender shoot like it's a baby bird incubating inside its shell. Orchids know how to deliver the goods, producing brilliant flowers six at a time, and Anthurium, with its waxy red heart-shaped leaves, makes me smile.

My miniature tea rose is another story. Most of the time, it seems moribund with barely a spot of green and not even a prayer of flowering. I water it anyway and then suddenly, like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, a tiny rose will appear, turning its crimson face toward the afternoon sun.

I bought the snake plant because it was advertised as no green thumb required. This turned out to be true. It keeps on going--if by going you mean not dying. But it's just kind of there, growing a little bit taller but otherwise unremarkable. Although I don't expect my plants to be trained circus animals I do need something from them to keep my attention. In short, if you don't do anything interesting there's a good chance I'll forget about you. Lucky for the snake plant his neighbors draw me in with their tricks.

And then there's the dead plant, a small bromeliad in a clay pot. It was the only plant I tried very hard to keep alive for the past five years. It was a gift and, while I don't know who brought it over, I do know when and I do know why. I had hosted many parties and gatherings over the years, but none like this one, so last-minute, with many strangers on the guest list. It was an impromptu memorial service for my friend Leslie who had died suddenly three days before. My funny, irreverent, smart-mouthed, cat-loving friend with her Boston accent and wonderful laugh, the one who ended every phone call with love you, my friend, was gone. All I could do was invite people over, make some food, and trade photos and stories of the woman we all missed so much.

It was a beautiful sun-lit day filled with flowers and laughter and love. Someone brought me a plant, a bromeliad. Leslie would have loved it.      

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Indie Authors' Panel on June 25th :-)

Check it out! I'm speaking on an Indie Author's panel on June 25th through the Broward County Library. :-D Any one can sign up to listen and it's free. 

And if you are interested in learning more about Black history and social justice issues, check out my new book--Accidental Activist: Justice for the Groveland Four. This memoir was co-written with my son Josh and recounts his successful 4-year quest to obtain posthumous pardons for four Black men wrongfully convicted of a heinous crime in the Jim Crow South. It is a primer for activism and an uplifting story of the power of perseverance and love. It is also still extremely relevant today. I have free audio-book download codes to give away. Excellent narrator! 

Here's the link on Amazon:

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Family Ties :-)

My husband grew up in a small town in Tasmania where almost everyone was related by blood or marriage. As a transplant from another country, he wasn't related to anyone, but was soon accepted into this big, messy, close-knit family of a town that he would later name our son after. (To clarify, we named our son Scott, not Scottsdale. With a surname of twelve letters, the poor kid didn't need a first name with ten more.)

Although I, too, come from a big extended family, I couldn't imagine one that encompassed an entire town. It sounded wonderful. In my mind they were always cheerful and happy to be together, watching each other's children, bringing each other casseroles, and never having to plan family reunions because they lived in one.

Apparently, it wasn't like that. They were just regular people with regular problems who had their share of illness, addiction, sad stories, and squabbles. I was so disappointed to hear it. Surely, there was something special about this inter-related town? It turns out there was. When anyone had a problem, word quickly spread through the family grapevine. If you fell, someone would pick you up, if you were hungry, they would feed you, and if you were feeling down, they would sit with you. Ah, that's more like it! If only we could all live in a town like that.

In my first year as a lawyer, we hired a law clerk named Mindy who was engaged to be married. When Mindy's future mother-in-law Sondra asked who she worked with Mindy mentioned my name. Sondra said she had attended my wedding. After Mindy picked her jaw up off the floor she learned that Sondra was my mother's second cousin, that their grandfathers had been brothers. The next day, Mindy brought her fiancé to work so she could introduce me to my third cousin, a new lawyer himself who looked like he could be my brother--if I had a brother. It was surreal. Now, whenever I have an immigration question I call him up and say "Hey Cuz, got a minute?" He and Mindy broke up but he will always be my cousin.

My mother loved to host huge Thanksgiving dinners at our home in Florida and invite all the relatives. One year, my great-uncle Al, a widower in his 70's who had just remarried, brought his new wife Diana to dinner. As he was introducing her, he said, "Diana, I want you to meet someone from Connecticut." She replied, "I only know one person from Connecticut--Harry Sugarman." To which my other great-uncle replied, "I'm Harry Sugarman!" It turned out that Diana and Harry had dated fifty years ago. In other words, my grandmother's brother married a woman who had dated my grandfather's brother and they reunited by chance in a different state half a century later. The odds of that happening seemed astronomical, but were they really? If we reached out to strangers and asked enough questions, wouldn't we ultimately find a connection?

After my father died, his cousin provided some family history that we were unaware of. He told us that when my great-grandfather immigrated to the United States in 1885, his brother went to Africa and they never saw each other again. So, I may have family in Africa too.

In the end, we are all like the baby bird in that Dr. Seuss book who goes around asking everyone: "Are you my mother?' But instead we should be asking: "Are you my brother?" The answer to that question is yes.