“Keeping Things Alive,” May 3, 2022

This may seem strange, but I need to tell somebody, and I’m trusting you to understand.

Here goes. I recently adopted a new family _ seven individuals with distinct personalities, not to mention a few peculiarities.

We’re having fun getting to know one another. Or at least, I am. If they have any complaints, they’ve not said a word.

Why did I adopt a new family? Let me be clear. My decision to adopt them had nothing to do with my love for the real family my husband and I share _ a big blended bunch of great people, including five wonderful grown children, their lovely others and nine of the finest grandkids the world has ever seen.

I adore my real family and love to spend time with them. Always have. Always will. Especially if I don’t have to cook.

But two years ago, when the pandemic brought gatherings of family and friends (and even strangers in the check-out line) to a screeching halt, I began to feel a need _ I’ll just say this _ for a little more life in my life.

Have you felt that need, too?

Again, don’t get me wrong. My husband is a great companion. We’ve made the best of our time in semi-solitary confinement.

We have lots in common. We both like to eat. And sleep. And talk. Or not talk. We take turns cooking and cleaning. We use a tag team system to empty the dishwasher. He hands me the dishes, I put them away. He takes the trash cans down to the street. I do the laundry. We both fold it. He plays a video game killing demons. I play FreeCell creating order in chaos. (I like to create order any way I can.)

We watch TV together: Giants’ baseball, Warriors’ basketball and “Station 19,” a show in which my actor son plays a really good-looking fire captain.

And if the weather is nice, as it often is, we sit outside in the evening watching the sun go down, the moon come up, the stars come out and the lights come on around the valley.

Life is good for us. I hope it is for you, too. But as I explained, the disconnect of the pandemic somehow made me welcome a new family into our home. They hang out in our living room. I think they’re happy. I’m trying hard not to kill them.

Allow me to introduce to you my new family of plants. They sit stacked, one above the other, on several shelves in the corner between two sunny windows.

I’m clueless about botanical names, so I gave them common names that seem to suit them.

Gloria (short for glorious) is a gorgeous white orchid who sits on the top shelf like a queen.

Next is Jessica, with frilly green leaves speckled in pink. She’s named for my daughter-in-law, who gave her to me.

On the third shelf is Celine, a desert princess with tiny white flowers. She reminds me of our years in Las Vegas of all Places.

At the bottom, shoulder to shoulder, like leafy green guards are four big plants of various varieties. I call them “The Boys.”

And interspersed on the shelves are three remarkably real-looking battery operated candles controlled by the click of a remote. A gift from my friend Linda, they light up those plants (and my heart) like Christmas.

I wish you could see them.

I’ve never been a plant person. Over the years, I had my share of violets and such, but they never lasted long. I was always so busy taking care of the people in my life I kept forgetting that plants are living things, too.

They need love and care, or at least, a little water. I hope to do better with Gloria, Jessica, Celine and The Boys.

Once, as a child helping my grandmother tend her garden, I asked her why she did it. Her family was grown. She could buy produce at the market. Why did she keep pulling those weeds?

She laughed and gave me a look. “Keeping things alive,” she said, “keeps me alive, too.”

I didn’t understand it then. But it’s starting to make sense.


  1. Phyllis Rommens says

    Sharon, about Gloria, the orchid, it sounds as though you have her in an ideal location, so all she needs is to be watered once a week for five minutes. Let the water sit in the pot (full pot), and then lift her out and let her drain for another five minutes. Put her back in her pot and back in her “home.” She should thrive. I have three that I have had for several years, and this year they are all blooming! (I can’t believe it myself!) Love your column! It’s in my local paper (Decatur Daily) AL.

  2. If you can keep that orchid alive, you’re a better woman than and I am. A couple of years my daughter and I both got an orchid for Mother’s Day. We each petted, babied, bought special food food and soil but alas, they both died. She kept hers alive longer than I did mine, but, alas, they both died.

  3. I’m terrible with houseplants, but I’ve managed to keep a plant alive that was given to us when my step-daughter passed away 2 years ago. It’s a lovely reminder of her!

  4. CHope Hall says

    I used to have around 40 houseplants & now only have 8. I’m not even going to put them out on the deck this year. I simply can’t seem to find the energy to care for them. I make it a habit to water them once a week & my great grandmother’s cactus once a month on the first. I’ve had that since 1965 & it’s in the original pot. It has bloomed once. Used to have lots of flowers on our deck. Now we have 2 planters, 2 song bird feeders, & 1 humming bird feeder. Our first hummer came home today, later than usual. Hubby talks to the ones on the deck & keeps all the feeders filled. I enjoy watching them bloom & the many birds so I am thankful hubby takes care of them for us. I simply can’t seem to find the energy to take care of them.

    • Kate Sciacca says

      Well God bless you! I’ve kept a couple alive for a few years… but they’re the kind that are impossible to kill (or so the daughter tells me). That’s not to say there isn’t greenery all around the place… grateful for Nearly Natural 😉😉

  5. I name my houseplants too. I also talk to them and I don’t care who hears. My favorite is Isabelle, my Christmas cactus. She has been with me for 25 years.

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