Sometimes hope comes from the most unlikely places, and sometimes you have to take a second look to get a glimpse of it – especially when you are not aware that it is present. A portion of this blog contains pieces of a Facebook post that I added back in May 2017. So for those who have read that post, this is an update on the “pansies” but mostly commentary on the petunia that sprang up all on its own.
Back in May, everyone thought I had gone flower crazy! I was enamored with these pansies that I had planted back in September of 2016. After the vision loss at the end of 2015 took the majority of my vision, playing around with a few pots of flowers last summer was fun and fulfilling. It kept me busy and kept me out in the sunshine! I was pretty successful, with beautiful pots of vibrant purple and bright yellow petunias, pink and red and purple impatiens and multiple pots of marigolds (to keep the bugs away, of course.) I loved watching those few baby plants grow and flourish and fill the pots to overflowing. They made the front of the house quite colorful all throughout the summer.
Then after the summer flowers had run their course, around the end of October, I planted some pansies. Pansies really are my favorite fall flower. These particular pansies seemed to be able to brave the winter months and still have sticking power! Initially I used the same color pallet as the petunias, with the purple and yellow. I added another big pot with some purple, creme and sort of a reddish color; mostly because they were on sale and I wanted to fill that pot. All of my pansies were healthy and bloomed and the blooms made me happy. The pot with all of the varied colors together sort of morphed into a crazy kaleidoscope of mix and match. It seemed that the colors were fighting for attention. Sometimes the purple would be the most visible and at other times it was the reddish color. It was like they were standing at attention trying to show the world that they were there. I kept showing them off on my Instagram page and sometimes on Facebook. I will admit that the very mild winter we experienced may have helped this along somewhat. Even through the first of the year, the pansies never really died out. They would kind of get a little lazy at times, but would spring back to life. Once spring time was here and the weather heated up, I was told – multiple times, that they probably would not last much longer.
I was sooooo looking forward to spring this year. I could see myself playing out in the sunshine in my “flower pots.” I even started some spring flowers from seed in the house early in February. They were doing amazing until I fried them in the green house; but that is waaayyyy, totally another story!! ﾠThe pansies flourished all the way through January and February. Then in early March of this year I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Wow! I didn’t have time to fret and worry and look down the long, winding road that is cancer treatment. I didn’t have to! Everything happened pretty quick from the initial diagnosis. I had one surgery and then another. The amazing news was that they were very confident that they were able to get the cancer with the surgery. I feel blessed that I do not have to go through additional treatments, just frequent follow ups with the doctor. Although I did cause my family physician to chuckle with my cluelessness. I saw him shortly after my second surgery. I told him, “I’m confused. I don’t know what I am.” He just shook his head at me and asked what I was talking about. I told him that I don’t really know how I fit into the cancer patient/survivor realm. I had cancer and then three weeks later it was gone. What am I considered? He told me that technically I am considered a cancer patient for five years. Well, that kind of put me in that box; but a friend of mine who is a breast cancer survivor put it to me like this, “Elaine, you are a survivor!” I’ll take that. Surviving speaks of hope!
Yes, I seem to have had a few bumps in the road recently, but I still see good things coming my way. I still see a bright future. I still have hope. And as I write this, in early August, I still have my pansies, well…somewhat. I suppose it is a good thing that the flower “garden” is not very big; I think that has allowed me to keep it up decently. It has a few shrubs, it is covered with creek rock and has four flower pots. Two of those pots contained the Energizer Bunny pansies. I like to look at it as God took care of them for me so long because He knew I would not be able to tug around on flowers and pots and bags of potting soil this spring.
Not only did He allow the pansies to flourish throughout the winter, He gave me another surprise that is going wild as the summer lengthens! There were two bare pots that I just pulled everything out of last fall. I was enjoying the continual blooming pansies, but I did not have a lot of hope for anything being potted in the two empty pots, because I just didn’t feel like getting out there and fooling with them. But surprisingly, while I was out walking around in late May, there in one of those formerly barren pots, all alone with a couple of weeds (I think) was this one adorable little purple flower, petunia by name. It had been hiding somewhere in that barren flower pot all winter. It had survived the winter season and struggled to break the surface to embrace the warm spring sunshine. Then, not only did it find the strength to bloom, it encouraged some friends along also. I kept watch on the petunias throughout the rest of spring and now summer. I saw the one single flower become two, then three, then five, then nine; and as of today there were about thirteen or so flowers blooming from that single little sprout.
I am totally convinced and believe that God is not only involved in the big events of our lives, but also cares about the tiny, tiny details that make up our day to day existence. When we are in the “winter seasons” of our lives, we can still look around and see beauty. For me, it has been the simplicity of a few flowers. For others it may be stepping out into a crispy, sunny day and taking a walk around the block in the sunshine, or getting a hug from a grandchild that you don’t see nearly enough, or picking up the phone to hear the voice of someone you care about. To me, those pots of ever-blooming pansies symbolize the hope that comes from being surrounded by family and friends. I think that if we will look, sometimes hard, we can also find beauty in the barrenness. That single purple bloom in the forsaken flower pot shows that if we persevere through those desolate times, that God can bring forth something good, EVEN out of and/or through those times, and surround us with family and friends to give beauty and hope to our world.
Although the determined petunias were going strong, I must admit, it wasn’t looking quite so good for the pansies. I figured all of those that kept telling me, “This is NOT going to last.” were probably going to be proven correct. As of last week (the end of June) there were no flowers or buds on the pansies and they looked pretty sad. There were just stringy, green stems, with a few sparse leaves. I thought maybe everyone was right and there was no way they will make it all the way through summer. I was even kind of thinking that (since it is August) maybe it is time to get some summer flowers in those pots. But then I took another look! Who would have thought it? (Certainly not those naysayers!) The first of this week I noticed a bud on the flower pot that is currently being shielded by two overgrown bushes. These are the two shrubs that did not get trimmed because of the hideous bug bite (that has frightened me away from trimming for the past few weeks). I have watched this tiny bud survive the past few days. Initially I thought, “Ah it will get stuck in the bud stage. It is way too hot for it to make it through.”….so I’ve been told! But guess what? As of yesterday it was beginning to bloom! When it was all tightly rolled up, all I could see was white. Now that it has started to spread a little, I see purple on the inside of the flower. Not only is it blooming, but on the same stem there is another bud getting ready to bloom! It has encouraged me to keep them watered and keep all the dead greenery plucked off. I have hope that this one little plant that is being kept mostly in the shade by this big, out of control bush will make it through. I am confident enough to say that I’ll be posting another blog about this self same plant come fall!
Each day I am working out the new directions of my life, and truthfully, I don’t know where it is headed. It is certainly different than it was this time two years ago. One thing I do feel, as crazy as it seems, is hope! My plan is to keep waking up, putting my feet on the floor, moving in a positive direction, making amends when I mess up, keeping the faith and looking toward the hope for every day that I am given. I want to reach out to others to help them see that there is hope, even in the barrenness.
“But this is precisely what is written: God has prepared things for those who love him that no eye has seen, or ear has heard, or that haven’t crossed the mind of any human being” (1 Corinthians 2:9 GNT)