Walking into my home holding a six inch, green flower pot, my friend Joyce grabbed my attention and took me aside.
"Lets go out on the front porch because I want to tell you a story."
She began immediately. "JP, I want to tell you about my Aunt Alva. She was a homely woman...very homely. I mean she was down right ugly! She was my Aunt on my mother's side and there was nothing, absolutely nothing, pretty about her."
Smiling and questioning her intentions with this introduction, I asked her if this was a joke. Clenching her lips, she shook her head side to side. Listening intently to this tale about her Aunt and not yet grasping the purpose, I glanced over toward the flower pot then re-focused on Joyce.
"Although Aunt Alva was as ugly as sin, she had a heart of gold, JP. She had no boyfriends when she was young and men never wanted to bother with her as she aged either. Living alone her whole life, she never married nor had any children. But, everyone in the family knew that what she had in her heart, she gave to others without hesitation."
"Now, we don't know where she got this plant to begin with, but each Spring, she would pass on a sprig or two to another family member. I've taken some sprigs off of my pant, JP, which I got from my mother, to give you because we want you to consider yourself part of the family."
My eyes, now beginning to tear, once again ventured over to the bright green pot, wondering what this beautiful cascading plant was called with it's delicate, almost sheer, lavender flowers.
"Since you invited Bill and I out to your home, we wanted to bring you something special. And, what I will tell you is this. Although none of us know the proper name of the plant, we want you to have it."
She went on. "Each fall, when the weather gets cold, take it in and put it in a closet. Leave it in the dark all winter. Don't water it. Ignore it. In the Spring, take it out of the closet, put it in indirect sunlight giving it a nice watering. Carefully clip off the dead withered vines. Before you know it, you will see small gray stalks emerging from the soil. Then it will change from an ugly, brown, dead, scraggly looking thing to this beautiful plant you see here."
Mesmerized by her explanation, I immediately wanted to ask questions but didn't know where to begin.
Joyce continued, "we've called it Alva as far back as I can remember. As you can see, the blossoms are truly a thing of beauty. It reminds us of Aunt Alva...a beautiful person on the inside."
Hugging and thanking Joyce, I accepted the gift with great pride. Alva continues to thrive in my closet each winter. She is a thing of beauty each Spring, Summer and Fall and that beauty will live on forever.