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Sunday, May 31, 2020
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Gentle Memories

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Vacation souvenirs

     The red flower pictured here is called a Bougainvillea. It is traditionally a southern perennial that grows outside and grows quite tall in the deep south. Here in Kentucky, it must come inside or it will freeze over the winter.
     This flower is several years old. In fact I think the exact age of this plant may be fifteen years old. But September, I must bring this potted plant into our Family room where it will reside all winter in a southern facing window. Every year before bringing it in, it receives a severe "haircut". In fact, I cut about 2/3 of the plant away. I have to do that. The plant some summers grows up to five feet tall. (I do fertilize it regularly).      Around Christmas, it looks so puny and yellowed. I have thought of giving up on it and letting it freeze and be done with it. But I just cannot do it.
     You must be guessing that this plant has some meaning for me. Well it does.  I lost my father and mother two weeks apart. Both died of "natural causes" with my father age 94 and my mother 84. My father passed first.  Though my mother had Alzeimer's, I concluded she died of a "broken heart". She just did not choose to live after dad passed. It's not unusual for couples who have lived most of their lives together to die close together. My parents were married 56 years to each other.
     After their funerals, my wife and I decided to take a vacation and go through a healing time. We decided to go south for a week or so. My heart seems at home in the deep south.
     We ended up in Charleston, South Carolina. It is a city we had visited before and is full of amazing architecture, wonderful food and countless photo opportunities. We stayed in a fine motel just outside the city but along an inlet where we saw manatees every day at the dock. We walked through the old city and found ourselves at some point along "The Battery". There they were. In July full bloom along The Battery. Bougainvillea! Somehow, I associated this "healing vacation" with this southern flower. The time we were there was a wonderful and memorable time for us. It enabled us to return to Kentucky and deal with the closing of my parents' house and resolving the estate. 
     Before returning home I suggested we find a small start of this Bougainvillea flower and take it home with us. I wanted a red one as I especially was taken by that color.  We found a small pot at a big box store outside Charleston.
     We planted the small bush in a pot and have re-potted it several times since. But there is another factor that makes this plant special. You see, almost every year the plant reaches its peak color on our wedding anniversary.
     We often shoot photos to capture a special moment in our lives. The photo is a nice way to recall a time or event and a way to capture how we looked at that time.  I have a  living reminder of  a healing time in my past. But I also have a flowering display around our anniversary each summer. This is a truly special plant. I hope it will continue to live many years . But should it not survive another summer, I will just get another one. It would be a good excuse to go back to Charleston , a city that remains special to the both of us.