The Mother’s Day Gift

The Mother’s Day Gift

From Chicken Soup for Every Mom's Soul

The Mother’s Day Gift

It was a beautiful spring day in early May when I picked up my two little daughters from my mother’s house. I was a single working mother and Mom was kind enough to babysit for me. Putting a roof over my children’s heads and food on the table were major expenses and ones I worked very hard to cover. The bare essentials were the focus of my paycheck.

Clothes, gas money and an occasional repair of our car left little for discretionary spending. Thankfully, I had a wonderful mother who was always there for us.

As we were driving home Debbie, my six-year-old kindergartner, asked if we could go shopping for a Mother’s Day present for Grandma. I was tired and had many things to do at home, so I told her I’d think about it, and maybe in the morning we would. Both Debbie and her four-year-old sister, Cindy, decided that was a definite plan, and they were very excited about it.

After putting the girls to bed that night, I sat down and went over my budget. Putting money aside for the rent, gas for the car and new shoes Cindy needed, I had fifteen dollars for food till the next payday in two weeks. Grandma’s present would have to come out of the food money.

The girls were up bright and early the next morning and willingly helped me clean and dust—the usual Saturday chores. The talk centered on what gift we should get for Gram. I tried to explain that we didn’t have much money to spend, so we would have to shop carefully, but Cindy was so excited she had a list a mile long.

After lunch we drove to town. I had decided that the only place we might find something I could afford was at the five-and-dime. Of course, this being Debbie and Cindy’s favorite store, I immediately made a hit with them. We walked through the store, carefully going up each aisle looking at anything that might be appropriate. Cindy thought Grandma might like a pair of shoes too, (we’d found her a pair of blue tennies for $1.99) but Debbie saw a white straw handbag she said would be, “Just perfect for Grandma to take to church!” Again I explained that we only had a few dollars to spend, so we would have to look further.

After going past most of the counters, we came to the back of the store and were ready to turn down the last aisle when Debbie stopped and pulled me over to a display of small potted plants. “Mom,” she said, tugging on my arm. “Look, we could get Grandma a plant!” Cindy started to jump up and down with excitement. “Can we?” she asked. “Grandma loves flowers!” They were right. Mom had a beautiful flower garden and had vases of cut flowers in the house all summer. There was a large selection of plants in 2” pots for fifty cents. We could even pick out a pretty, little pot and some potting soil and plant it for her. That decision made, we now had to select just the right one. They finally settled on one with shiny green leaves with white variegations—a philodendron.

That was a special Mother’s Day. Both the girls helped repot the little plant and eagerly told their grandmother all about it. Grandma was pleased and placed it on her kitchen windowsill over her sink, “Where I can watch it grow while I do the dishes!” she told them.

The little plant thrived under Mom’s caring hands, and my sister and I got many a cutting from it over the years. Time sped by, and the girls grew up to be lovely young women, married and had babies of their own.

One day when Debbie and Cindy stopped by to visit, Deb spotted my philodendron that was hanging and twining all around my kitchen window. “Mom, is that plant new?” she asked. Both girls wanted to know what kind of plant it was and where I bought it. I explained that you just had to break off a short stem from one and place it in a glass of water and let it root. Grandma always had several glasses with philodendron rooting in them, sitting on her kitchen windowsill. Didn’t they remember that they had given Grandma that philodendron for Mother’s Day all those years ago?

“You’re kidding,” they both said in wide-eyed wonder. “You mean this is all from that same little plant?” I assured them it was and suggested they go ask Grandma for some cuttings and start their own plants.

Later that day, Cindy called to let me know she and Debbie had gone to visit Grandma, and both of them now had several pots with philodendron planted in them. “Grandma had loads of them, most of them with real long roots,” she said. “And Mom, did you know that she still has the original plant Debbie and I gave her for that Mother’s Day when we were little?”

It was just a little Mother’s Day gift—a very inexpensive gift at that—but now forty years later, we see the beauty of it. A philodendron is like a human family. You break off a little stem from the mother plant and reroot it somewhere else. And it grows and spreads in its own unique pattern that still somehow resembles the plant from which it came. As our family goes its different ways, the philodendron we all have has become a symbol for us of how connected we all are. Through its silent daily reminders, the philodendron has brought us closer together as a family.

Mom and dad presently live in a Care Center close to me. The largest remnant of that philodendron plant now graces my front entry, and yes it is still giving of itself. I always have a vase with snippets of its rooting in my kitchen for the homes of my granddaughters. These plant snips are the descendants of that one little plant bought from the Five and Dime by two children for a long-ago Mother’s Day gift.

Joan Sutula

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