Posted by: Kathy | August 24, 2012

A Delicate Flower…Or Not

When my mom died, her greenhouse was filled with over 300 orchids. I knew she had a lot of plants, but never realized she had hundreds of orchids. My dad has kept many of these plants alive, and continues to add to the collection. When I see an orchid I think of my mom. Growing orchids was a passion my parents shared. A florist my parents often bought plants from gave my dad an orchid in honor of my mom when he learned of her death.

I always thought of orchids as beautiful but delicate flowers. I would panic when my parents went on a trip and asked me to take care of their plants. As I watched the spray of water rain down over the plants, I silently prayed that I would not kill one of them. My mom always assured me that although orchids looked delicate, they were really hardy plants. I did not believe her, but as far as I know, none of their plants died while in my care.

Fast forward a few years, pancreatic cancer has taken my mom from me. Since her death, I’ve done my best to keep her memory alive for my kids and to honor my mom. One evening, my husband saw an orchid that was part of a silent auction at his work. He bid on the orchid for me, to have as a memory of my mom. The orchid was perfect. A deep purple in color, this flower was not only beautiful, but a symbol of the disease my mom valiantly fought against.

I’ve learned that the trick is to figure out the correct balance of light and water that each plant needs, so that the orchid will not only survive but bloom again. Unfortunately, I did not find this correct balance, and the orchid I got in memory of my mom died despite my efforts. My dad makes it look so easy, but it’s not, at least for me. I don’t have his green thumb or knowledge of orchids. But I want to learn and try again.

Orchids bloom in an array of many vibrant colors, and there are some tones I’ve never seen before except in this delicate flower. Multiple flowers bloom off of a single branch and can last for weeks. Plus there are so many varieties of orchids, each with its unique bloom of beauty.

For me, orchids are a symbol of my mom and her life, not only because she raised them, but because my mom was beautiful and “hardy,” just how she described an orchid to me. The last year of my mom’s life was very difficult at times, but her delicate beauty was always evident.



  1. my mom had a greenhouse full of orchids too! she started her collection and when they grew, my dad had a greenhouse built and add more orchids for her care. I do not recall now when or how she stopped visiting her greenhouse….probably when her battle started. The greenhouse is still there. and remnants of the plants still hang from their places.

  2. Your blog entry is so descriptive. I feel that even if I didn’t have the benefit of the photos, I would get the sense of what you said. Some flowers are beautiful, yet fragile; others beautiful, yet hardy. Some times in our lives we seemingly trudge through without many cares – somehow our strength is hardy enough to withstand the assaults so we don’t feel them as much. At other times, however, even the most minor disruptions in our lives send us reeling.
    Thank you Kathy for sharing your heart, and your talent, with us.

  3. What a beautiful post, full of flowers and your love for your mother

  4. You have such a BEAUTIFUL talent with words, Kathy!  So wonderfully written.  :o)   Claudia


  5. This is a beautiful post…love the pictures of these amazing flowers and your comparison to your mother. I will think of your love for her when I see one!

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