My grandmother died 14 years ago at the ripe old age of 86. She was still very active and still driving - as scary as that really was. She was a wonderful woman. Very stoic and dry, she didn't show affection much but she had so many qualities that I loved.
She had an extremely interesting life and she loved to share her stories with me: Going to art school; adventures in cars in the years when driving 10 miles an hour was like riding a roller coaster; bathtub gin! I loved these times with her.
One of the things I loved most about my Gaga was her love of nature and plants. She taught me when to prune hydrangea and how to identify trillium and other forest flowers. We took long walks whenever we were together - which sadly wasn't that often. She was very much involved in conservation and, in fact, had driven herself to a conference where she had the stroke that would, two weeks later, take her life.
After she died, my sister and I went to her home to help clean out some of her stuff. The things that were most meaningful to me were her plants. K and I took several. She a beautiful Jade, me a happy Christmas Cactus. We both took clippings from a huge vine that nearly filled a large greenhouse window in her kitchen.
For years, this clipping didn't do much. I wondered why it was so special; why Gaga had loved this plant so much. The leaves were pretty. Waxy dark green. But beyond that? Meh.
Then one day about 10 years ago, I smelled this overwhelming sweet scent in my apartment. I searched high and low but couldn't figure out what it was. I kept sniffing around and finally found the source:
Gaga's Hoya had finally bloomed.
And now it blooms several times a year. It's prolific really. I have created multiple plants from this one clipping of hers. It is an honor and a privilege to be one of the keepers of this amazing plant. And every time I smell that wonderful scent and see the beautiful blooms, I remember her.
She would have been 100 today. Happy Birthday Gaga. I miss you.