When I met my husband to be, not so much on a blind date, as on a "there's an extra Jimmy Buffet concert ticket because his planned date didn't pan out", I couldn't have imagined what the coming years would bring. There was for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, and ultimately 'til death do us part.
The care of his aging parents fell to me, and filled the last eight years with plenty of heartbreaking experience of in sickness and in health.
The first Christmas I spent with the Mitchells, in 1988, I gave my future mother-in-law an amaryllis bulb kit. She had such a great time watching it grow, and reporting it's progress to me, that it became an annual tradition. Over the next twenty years those bulbs never failed to provide her with great joy, as they sent their long slender stalks towards what little sun blesses the Northeastern Ohio winter skies.
This past Christmas was my first as the last Mitchell standing. (My father-in-law used to joke that we could hold the family reunion in a phone booth). So I bought my own amaryllis kit. It was simply a tall glass cylinder, some glass marbles, and the large bulb.
I put it together as instructed. I think I put a bit too much water in, and the bulb was not looking particularly happy. I waited. I watched. It seemed to be growing particularly slowly. Then it gained some steam. The stalk grew tall. A second stalk appeared. At least four fat buds per stalk.
And then finally the other day one flower opened. Then another. And another. Now I see what she was so happy about. And the tradition goes on.