The Christmas Cactus

He turned the cactus towards the sun. Morning light came in from the two windows in the living room of his small apartment. There were no blooms on the plant. He’d just recently got the green leafy climber from a neighbor of his. Kind of a welcome to the neighborhood gift. Water just a little, she told him. Just enough to make the dirt moist. And keep turning it towards the sun each day, the older woman said. He followed her directions throughout the holidays. Watered it a little and kept it in the sunlight. Each morning this was his routine.

The old man had never been good with plants. Or, any vegetation for that matter. Everything he’d had always died on him. When he was a kid he tried to grow corn in his back yard. It never turned yellow, just green to staright brown. He tried everything; Miracle-Gro, watering it everyday, good fresh soil; his grandfather laughed at him when he came to visit. Said he didn’t possess a green thumb. Not like him. His whole backyard was one giant garden of flowers, plants, vegetables, he was really something. And, the grandfather let him know that.

His granddad judged him on a lot of things. The way he dressed, the length of his hair, grades in school which were lacking, his work effort, were all mocked by papa. He’d wrap his leathery hands around a highball and tell him to sweep faster. He’d drink a beer and tell him to rake leaves in the front yard like he meant it. Nothing was ever good enough for granddad. And the boy knew it. He knew he would never live up to his standards. Felt like he’d had enough. More than enough.

Throughout his life the old man had serious problems with depression. He’d also had notions of running off across country on the spur of a moment. It was always episodes of mania and depression for him; up and down. Many drugs were prescribed. And, one day during his high school years, he decided to take them all in one giant swallow till all the pills in the bottles were gone.

The young boy woke up in a psych ward. His mother was there scolding him for the event. She said his gradfather was ashamed and never wanted to talk to him again. He never reached out to his granddad after that and grandpa never reached out for him. The relationship, or, what there was of a relationship, was severed. They never spoke again. Never is a long time.

Today the old man got up to turn his Christmas cactus towards the sun. He noticed there was a bloom on it.


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