The African Violet and my moms birthday

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Today would be my mothers 70th birthday. That is a strange thought to me. It’s even stranger that she isn’t around anymore to celebrate birthdays, holidays or just any random day. Sure, it’s getting easier as time goes by. But, days like today…her birthday…it still hurts quite a bit.

So, in honor of my mothers birthday, I’m going to tell a little story.

Let’s go back in time a few years, shall we? Backwards, past the 90’s…80’s…stop at 1975.

I was in Kindergarten. Mrs. Eisenbergs class at Kennedy Elementary School in Southfield.

We were going to do something special, Mrs. Eisenberg told the class. For our all our Moms. In honor of Mother’s Day.

Each of us was given a little flower pot to decorate with different colored squares of tissue paper. We’d carefully pick which squares we wanted, place them on the little tiny pot and paint over it with glue to hold each square securely in place.

Our pots were perfectly and meticulously decorated, our concentration focused on making this a perfect gift for our Moms.

Then, we were each given dirt and a seed.

We were growing African Violets.

When we were done, the pots perfect and the seeds tucked away into pockets of dirt, our little gifts were laid out along a counter top where we could watch our seeds turn into tiny plants.

Little African Violet, some with flowers already blooming, others just little green sprouts poking up out of the dirt were all ready to take home. Little labors of love for our Moms, just in time for Mothers Day.

I remember carefully taking mine home. So worried about it dumping over and ruining the gift.

Being in Kindergarten, I was too excited to wait until Sunday to present the present to my mom.

I handed it to her.

She took it out of the box and gushed appropriately.

I was ecstatic.

She loved it.

It promptly went onto the windowsill so it could bask in the sunlight.

Somehow, despite the lack of the gift of a green thumb, my mother kept that little African Violet alive for years.

And years.

And years.

It grew.

And grew.

And grew.

Bright flashes of purple flowers constantly bursting from green leaves.

Fast forward now to present day.

That African Violet is now almost as old as I am.

It’s 39 years old, almost exactly.

It’s still alive, transplanted into a larger pot to accommodate a larger plant.

It still sits in front of a window, only now because of its size, it sits on the floor.

My mom used to always say that she had to keep the plant alive. She’d joke that if it died, that meant she would be dead too.

Ironic, isn’t it?

The plant outlived my mother.

In life only.

That little plant is alive still.

As is the memory of my mother.

Happy birthday Mom.

You are missed terribly.

And, I guess I have to go over to your house and rescue the plant. Dad isn’t taking care of it the way you did. Now…it’s my turn to keep that little African Violet alive, just like I started to all those years ago.




  1. says

    This is such a wonderful story. My grandmother kept African violets most of her life. Hers did not outlive her though. She grew unable to care for them. May your mother’s African violet live many more years and be a treasured memory whenever you look at it.
    Janet´s last blog post ..The Year(s) of the Great Pause

  2. Monica says

    What a wonderful story! So sweet and so poignant. I hope that each time you admire that African Violet, your mom’s memory is cherished a little bit more. <3

  3. Paula says

    Wow! 39 years. I have my mom’s last African Violet. We gave it to her when she went into the nursing home 13 years ago. She passed away the flower blooms on. I am always afraid of it dying, but it just keeps on living. And now I know that it can at least live 20 or so more years. Thanks for sharing this story

  4. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story… The tears it brought to my eyes came with a smile. It’s 28 years since my mom passed away and i get those same tears on her birthday. And, coincidentally, my mom cherished her african violets as well.

  5. says


    I love that you have the violet that you gave your mom so many years ago and that it’s still thriving. I had one that last for several years but they can be picky.