Friday, March 11, 2011

Aunt Alva

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.


Red Writing Hood 

This week's assignment was to write a short piece, either fiction or non-fiction, about something ugly - and find the beauty in it.  Word limit is 600.


  1. What a touching story! I love the reminder that beautiful hearts aren't always wrapped in the prettiest paper. I'm sure you treasure that plant.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Popping over from TRDC

  2. Is it just that I am hormonal or is this post really so beautiful. I am almost in tears JP. This is an intense post although it hides carefully in simple words and events. I have been having a great experience for this past week and I feel so happy to know that I am on the right path.

    Have a great weekend.

  3. I love the story and the lesson it tells.

  4. A beautiful and meaningful tale, JP. A great lesson about beauty and giving.

  5. What a wonderful family tradition, and I love that they included you in it.

  6. Beautiful tribute to acceptance and to truly SEEING something, anything. Just lovely.

  7. What a very sweet tradition. Lovely.

  8. J P,that was a great story,sometimes you have to look closely to find the beauty within. Blessings jane

  9. This is amazing. It's just about time to take Alva out of the closet this year. The story of the ugly duckling...fantastic!

  10. What a beautiful story. I loved it

    Visiting from RDC

  11. Such a great story! I hope you have your Alva for a long time!

  12. Loved this! I need to find out what this plant is and buy it. I think even I could make this plant survive. I've joined to follow you.

  13. Simply put, just beautiful. Thank you for sharing this part of you.

  14. This is gorgeous, and such a deeply true lesson.

  15. What a great story JP. I can't wait to see a picture of Alva in her full glory this Summer.
    the wanna be country girl - Caroline

  16. Beautiful! That is a lesson for all-time and lovely legacy for dear Alva!

    Can I also mention that your blog header is the prettiest darn place I've ever seen. I want to sit there and write. :-)

  17. What an amazing tradition! I loved the reminder that beauty is not always visible.

    Visiting from TRDC.

  18. Ooo, I loved this and loved you take on the prompt! What an honor and a wonderful thing for your friend to share. I love that Alva lives on, passing and growing beautiful.

  19. They say beauty is only skin deep - real beauty comes from within. sandie

  20. This is fabulous - we need to see the beauty within.

  21. Awww!!! *sniff* Tears!! What a heart warming story. What a fabulous family Joyce has and how they have turned the homely aunt into a beautiful treasure.

    --The Drama Mama

  22. A beautiful post. I love the message of looking beyond what we see on the outside. Thank you for this.

  23. That's just lovely.

    We have a family plant, too, but I don't know what Aunt Louise looked like.

    Great response to the prompt.


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