This spring, two magnificent blossoms rose from an agapanthus plant I’d given up for dead. They remind me, in a bittersweet way, of a former neighbor.
The neighbor, a Navy wife whose husband was on his last posting before retirement, stayed less than a year in my landlocked part of the world. Her husband had chosen the house, and she found it forbidding, her mother was dying, and her daughter was expecting a baby in a far-off state.
“Can’t” didn’t have a place in my neighbor’s vocabulary although her husband’s postings had uprooted her and their children many, many times. She knew how to make a house a home via rugs, pillows and family pictures. She prided herself on her organizational skills and always had a list going.
She was a familiar sight pushing her wheelchair-bound mother up and down the street until the summer heat wilted them. She flew stand-by to visit her daughter for a weekend every six weeks or so. In other words, she coped.
She’d adapted to different locales and languages by following the adage, “Bloom Where You’re Planted,” and had embroidered that saying on a pillow cover. Imagine, then, how her failure to bloom at her husband’s final posting knocked her off balance. Here, circumstances had drop-kicked her into survival mode. She made the best of a tough situation but didn’t have the energy to flower. After several months of struggle to get her bearings, she opted to leave the state and live with her daughter, her mother in tow. Her husband would follow once he'd finished his last assignment.
“Bloom where you’re planted” is meant to inspire but puts a lot of pressure on the trailing spouse, the transferred worker, rotating doctor, interim department head, or any of us caught in a situation not entirely of our making.
Roughly five years ago, I planted an agapanthus in a sunny corner of my front yard. It bloomed its first spring but barely made it through the first summer. Too much sun (yes, such a thing is possible), a drought year, and a spot that drained too well meant the plant struggled to stay alive. Blooming was out of the question. The following year, I dug it up, intending to throw it onto the compost pile. I don’t know why I didn’t. At the last minute, I replanted it in the backyard’s dappled sunlight.
The plant greened up and spread but didn’t bloom until this spring, when it put on its over-the-top show.
I believe in making the best of situations we can’t change, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t better situations out there. A different location, different job, different coworkers or friends may be what we need to reach our potential.
My neighbor had bloomed many times until she hit her personal Sahara. When her willpower and familiar routines didn’t work their customary magic, she chose to transplant herself.
I’d like to think she’s blooming.
What about you? Do you believe in blooming where you’re planted or in planting yourself where you’re most likely to bloom?