Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Cactus Blooms For My Mother


2008
My father dug a Golden Barrel cactus out of the desert more than 25 years ago, when he and my mom were living in Desert Hot Springs, CA. They had moved there in their retirement, and they cultivated a lovely little desert garden in their front yard. After my dad died, my mom moved closer to the coast, and Roger and I inherited the Golden Barrel. We've had it for more than 20 year now and have schlepped it from place to place. It's gotten bigger and much harder to move around, but it's been to Santa Cruz, Port Townsend, WA, Grass Valley, and now here in the northern coastal climate of Arcata. We noticed two flower buds on it a few month ago. Didn't give it much thought, because it is so foggy, cloudy, gray and cool here most of the time. Then there were even more buds, but why would a poor old cactus bloom here, we wondered?
The purple arrow is pointing to the cactus in our Port Townsend living room, ca 2006
On Friday, my mom went to the oncologist's office to get the results of her liver biopsy. My older brother Marc and my sister Lynn were with her. Lynn was texting me, and I was on the phone with my twin brother Michael. It was definitely a long-distance family moment. The doctor said to my mother, "I have good news for you. It's Follicular Lymphoma." Now at first the word lymphoma sounds pretty awful, but when we learned more about it, we could see why the doctor thought this was good, compared to what other things he might have had to say.

The Mayo Clinic website is incredibly informative about Follicular Lymphoma. We thought the most relevant part was this:

Your treatment options are determined based on the type and stage of your lymphoma, your age, and your overall health.

Treatment isn't always necessary

If your lymphoma appears to be slow growing (indolent), a wait-and-see approach may be an option. Indolent lymphomas that don't cause signs and symptoms may not require treatment for years.
Delaying treatment doesn't mean you'll be on your own. Your doctor will likely schedule regular checkups every few months to monitor your condition and ensure that your cancer isn't advancing.
My mom has a follow-up visit in three months. She will have blood tests and another CT scan of her chest. She is in good health. She is asymptomatic. We think she has many years of life ahead, and we are all breathing a sigh of relief (and dancing wildly in joy!).

On Friday,  just before my mom's appointment, I went out to the yard and noticed this. The Golden Barrel cactus was BLOOMING. This is its first bloom in 25 years. The magnificent serendipitous nature of the universe sent a flower to my mother from a plant my father had loved a long, long time ago. Aren't coincidences the most wonderful thing.

26 comments:

  1. A beautiful coincidence! I didn't realize from the first photo just how BIG that cactus is. The flowerpot, without anything to compare it to, looks like a little one.

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  2. sackerson-- The first photo was taken seven years ago. The cactus was much smaller than it is now.

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  3. Lovely! Both bits! I'm so glad that your mom's lymphoma is a wait and see one, that she may never need treatment. And what a happy day, to finally see the bloom on Ye Olde Traveling Cactus. xoxo

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  4. kathy a-- Yes, the "wait and see" is such a good thing. We are all so relieved. And that cactus made our day!

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  5. We are both very happy for you and your mother. What a great bit of news. I don't believe in any higher power or any other kind of spiritual stuff, but I'll take a coincidence like the cactus bloom and your mother's good news any old time.

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  6. Mark and Leah-- Yes! It is a great bit of news. We don't believe in any higher power or any spiritual stuff either, which is why coincidences are so cool. I emailed a pic to my mom, and she loved it! Ah serendipity.

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  7. you know, it's coincidences like this that may me wonder about a higher power....or dad somewhere in the ether sending a bloom to you to cheer you and add to the celebration of good news. I'm content to leave it a lovely mystery. It's all good, as they say.

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  8. Tara-- Yes, it's all good.

    Loren-- Thank you.

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  9. There is so much love and gratitude and joy expressed in your post today. Entirely astonishing that the first flower of a Golden Barrel cactus which hadn't bloomed in 25 years would appear in cool and foggy Arcata which is so far from the cactus's desert origins and that it would bloom in conjunction with the upbeat news about your mother's health. I love the image of all of you dancing with joy!

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  10. Good news. The liver is a resilient organ, glad your mom's is a tough one!

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  11. am-- That's exactly what I was thinking: A golden barrel cactus blooming for the very first time in Arcata. Crazy. The coincidence with my mother's good health news was a joyous occasion in every way.

    isabelita-- Thank you! My mom had a great role model with her own mother, who was also incredibly tough and resilient.

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  12. Great news. I used to grow cacti successfully in England so anything's possible. I read somewhere that they actually flower best when they feel under threat, particularly when they start to outgrow their pot.

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  13. Extremely good news! Glad for you and your mom!

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  14. John-- I don't know why it surprises me so much to know that you can grow cactus in England, but it does. I always expect cactus to thrive in the desert and nowhere else. I found a great link about Golden Barrel cactus and learned they will grown anywhere. I think our golden finally got old enough to flower. Yay!

    John-- Thank you!

    Sabine-- Thank you!

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  15. Ah. There are no coincidences. ♥ Glad about your mom. Lovely story.

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  16. This is wonderful news about your Mom, Robin Andrea. Thank you for sharing. Kali and I had a tiny golden barrel cactus in a terrarium (now I'm dating myself!) that we moved into a pot. It did very well for many years, through repeated transplantations. It got so large and handsome that someone recommended we enter it in the Philadelphia Flower Show (which I never did). The last time I transplanted it, though, I did something wrong because it quickly began to rot and turn into a blob of green slime. I felt bad and guilty at the time, but it was getting so large and difficult to move around, I didn't completely regret the cactus's demise.

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  17. jsk-- I like the idea of coincidences, those random events that our hearts knit together with love. Thank for your kind words.

    Scott-- This cactus is getting a little big for us move around too. We do love it though. It's ready for a bit of re-potting because it is leaning pretty far over one edge of the pot right now. I think we'll wait until it stops flowering, maybe in the fall. Right now it has THREE OPEN FLOWERS! We are so happy, and my mom loves this so much.

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  18. Wonderful news robin. You must be so relieved. Even the cactus was celebrating.
    Can't believe you have been hauling the lethal weapon around so long. That is dedication but it is showing its appreciation.
    Again, wonderful news. You can relax a bit now.

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  19. Arkansas Patti-- Thank you! We are so relieved. And I love the idea of the cactus celebrating too. Yes. It's wild that we have been hauling that heavy lethal weapon for years. And yes, we are definitely relaxing!

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  20. Great news and how cool that the cactus bloomed now!

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  21. R.Powers-- Thank you! We've never loved a cactus flower as much as much as we loved this first one.

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  22. Oh, you know I love this. And wonderful news. :)

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  23. That cactus represented a real love story throughout this post! I am so glad your mom is doing fine. I still have both my parents, in their upper 80s now, and treasure each and every moment I spend with them.
    Momadness

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  24. Val-- Thank you so much for your comment. I'm so glad you love this!

    Momadness-- It is quite a love story, isn't it. My whole family was thrilled by good news and a blooming cactus. Treasuring the time you have with your parents is one of the most important things you can do.

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