Fred came to live with me November 2015. My daughter, was visiting from Edmonton. It was her often Fall visit to Mother. Checking up on me, she found me still thinking, walking and alive.
We hadn’t celebrated Thanksgiving together so we decided to make a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for just the two of us. We’d combine a late Thanksgiving and an early Christmas.
We decorated my apartment for Christmas. I’ve not put up a real Christmas tree for years. I had a little fake guy who was already decorated. I’d bring it up from storage put it on my coffee table in the corner. I’d string red lights around the about 12-inch-high fake guy, plug the lights in, voila – done!
That is, until Christmas 2015 we decided for old time sake to buy a Norfolk Pine to decorate. Off we went to Home Depot. We picked out this full, green, alive Norfolk. We put him in a grocery cart and wheeled him to the cashier. He was about 4 feet tall. Good, when we got him to my car, we flipped up the back seat in my Honda Fit. He rode home safe and sound.
We carted him up the elevator and into my apartment, all the time admiring his beauty. We found the perfect spot for him, in front of the living room window. We decorated him with precious memorabilia, I am sure to others looked like crap but to us it brought back happy memories. We found Elvis Prestly`s Christmas CD. Just like old times, we cranked up Elvis and decorated the tree. Back then on Emerson we’d tie the Christmas tree up with string to the living room window so it wouldn’t fall over.
We fondly talked and laughed and reminisced as we decorated our Norfolk. We remembered the year when we finished decorating our Christmas tree. W had it all secure and strung up to the window. We sat down admiring how great the decorations were spaced, how the lights were even, and how straight we had it propped up when, Georgia came around the corner. She stopped dead in her tracks and then took one running leap and pounced into the middle of the tree. Crash, over it went. I`m not sure if she thought it was a big green mouse all lit up or what? Cats can be strange creatures in their thought pattern.
When we finished decorating our newly purchased Norfolk Pine, fully decked and decorated we sat down to admire him. Just like old times Elvis was singing, ‘I`ll be home for Christmas’. My daughter chimed up and said, “I`ve got a name for him, “Let`s call him ‘Fred’, he looks like a Fred.” Fred it was.
In January when I took the decorations off Fred, I moved him to the south wall to sit beside the couch. I watered him, talked to him, and misted him with warm water, but slowly his branches got dry and prickly. I`d clip them off, one by one. In March Fred looked very thin and spindly; finally, I decided Fred would have to go. I left him alone for a couple of weeks until I mustered up the courage to deliver him to the green recycle bin. I got down on my bum and pushed the pot with my feet to the door. I got a black garbage bag so I wouldn`t get potting soil on my white carpet. All went well until I pulled one branch out of the pot, it wouldn’t budge. I pulled, I tugged but he stood strong. He didn’t move. I tugged again, he looked pathetic and weak but nope he wasn’t leaving the pot. Third time, no luck, fine I thought you can live if you must. I pushed the unsightly one limb Norfolk back into the living room. I placed him in front of the patio doors, watered him once a week, never to mist him again. He lived. He had no branches at the bottom. Really, he looked like a palm tree with prickly needles but he thrived, strong and healthy.
I went back to Home Depot, bought a baby Norfolk Pine and potted it at the base of Fred. I had another plant that also looked sadly pathetic. It was an Alocasia plant with only one stem and one leaf. I was going to throw her away but instead just for the heck of it I planted her under Fred beside Baby Norfolk. That one stem and one leaf grew into the most beautiful deep jade green leaves with patterned white veins.
Fred and Alocasia became best friends and together with their little baby Norfolk they blossomed into a family of green delight.
Fast forward to 2020. Fred and family sit in front of my patio window, dressed for Christmas in the little wrapped Christmas gifts my son and daughter in law strung together some 30 years ago. The little glass angel given to me by Jessica a little girl I looked after at Apple Rose Infant Toddler Care, again so many years ago, sits at the top of Fred. White lights twinkle and brighten the dull, short days of Advent.
A few weeks ago, in my journal I wrote:
Fred didn’t die, instead he continued to thrive.
Five years later, he is happy with his friends.
They’re growing so big I don’t know what to do.
My living room is in their hands, they’re taking over.
What do I do?
Do I cut them back or put them outside?
They are beautiful, alive, they bring green into my life.
It looks like a nursery in here with Purple Violet and her child,
With Christmas Cactus in rosy red, not to mention Fred.
They Bless my life and Elphie girl, my service dog, she lays here at my feet.