My Heirloom Dieffenbachia

I love plants. That said, you’d think our house would be filled with them. But presently (due to small windows and not a lot of direct sunlight and, of course, the cats) we have only  1 resident of the Plant Kingdom; my beloved Dieffenbachia.

In the summer of  1976, my mother attended a Stewart Family Reunion in Colorado ( I think it was Colorado).  She returned home with a Dieffenbachia cutting a cousin gave her.

Mom was a gardener and had quite the green thumb when it came to houseplants as well. Many plants came and went, but the faithful Dieffenbachia thrived for years.

While Mom experienced a brief remission during her fight with leukemia in 1990, she carefully chopped down much of the stalk into 7 sections, giving one to each of us 7 kids. Sadly, the parent stalk Mom so lovingly cared for has succumbed to neglect, and I can’t speak for the sections my siblings received, but mine is doing quite well, thank you!

I know Dieffenbachia are harmful to cats, and indeed, our Kali, when she was a kitten, developed a swollen bottom lip from having nibbled on the plant. Dave said, “It’s the cat or the plant.” So the Dieffenbachia was banished to the sewing room—a cat-free zone.

But it seemed to me the plant felt lonely when I’d see it in the sewing room all by itself. It didn’t seem to thrive as much as it did in the living room. So we invested in some nasty-smelling, bad-tasting spray to discourage any further molestation by the felines, and all has been well for both cats and Dieffenbachia ever since.

When I look at Dieffenbachia, I’m always reminded of my dear mother and I smile, hoping that in whatever form of consciousness it may have,  it senses that it is loved and cherished.




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