It doesn't look real does it? The Hand of God can be surreal in perfection sometimes. In the Summer of 2001, I had finally managed to get another of these plants to bloom. I had picked up a mature specimin at a yard sale, and managed to provoke it to bloom in three years. Conditions (sunlight, food, water and age) all have to be perfect for that to happen. The following winter, our house in Georgia burned, along with the ric-rac (or zipper) plant like this one which was sitting next to the garage. Most of my patio plants are descendants of plants from Georgia...that one just happened to perish. The plant is actually a member of the cactus family and has some wicked thorns embedded at the base of each "zipper". I've born hundreds of nasty punctures working with it over the years. Anyhoo, the next spring we moved down here and I was at a nursery in Winter Haven with Pee Paw (Tilena's Dad). We saw one of these in a small planter behind the cash register and I tried to buy it. Unfortunately, the owner said it was a personal item and not for sale....they're relatively rare. When we got back to his house, he handed me a 2 inch piece of the plant he said the owner's wife slipped to him while we were checking out.....don't know that I ever believed that story, but anyway, I brought that small piece home and got it rooted. I think of that old man every time I see this plant. This photo represents seven years work and a single payoff. Blooms on these plants are even more rare than the plant itself. It's about 4 inches across and it really looks artificial. This photo was taken with a flash right after dark when they usually initially open...its still not fully unfurled. The stamen on it sticks straight out about an inch from the petal base.
Long years of labor and a payout....not an uncommon theme. Nick will graduate high school in a couple of weeks. I bent over to change his diaper and when I looked up, he was 18 years old. He's the last calf out of the stall. The rodeo is over. I don't feel old enough to have three grown children. Then I look in the mirror, and I'm not sure who that guy looking back is. He does look old enough for three grown children....sigh, It's time for the payoff. T-Bug and I have talked on and off over the years about what the payoff may eventually be. We found with Christy that it can be a big payday. Given the least guidance of the three, she paid off big. We actually had the least invested in her because we had no idea how to raise her; we were learning on the fly. We all three just kind of grew up together. Ryan is finishing up his first year of college and the jury remains out on that charge. I'm not sure my parents would have professed great blossoms of their cactus plants. The five of us yeilded a sundry of results all across the spectrum ranging from poor to average...none of us produced particularly spectacular results. Joelene, probably the best chance at spectacular bloom, was killed at age 17.
With these two boys now, the hay is in the barn. Studies taught, lessons learned, what is done, is done. Only God knows what their future holds. Mom and Dad's knowledge have been imparted. Time will tell. We pray constantly over them, but the time for influrence has gone. It is time to let go. I can only lead now by way of model rather than word. Their eyes work much better than their ears at this age. Will we have another blossom, or a couple of thorns? We've had a lot of nasty punctures over the years....maybe we'll get another bloom or two for a payoff. There is great comfort in the promises of our Lord, and T-Bug's favorite verse. "Train up a child in the way he should go; when he is old he will not depart from it". Proverbs 22:6.
One proven, two to go.