“I never promised you a rose garden….”

By Cindy Phillips
One of the partners at my firm is on an extended business development trip to China. I received an email from him this week and the last line read, “Please water my plant.” I walked into his office and saw a wilted piece of greenery, leaves drooping almost to the floor. I marched over to the desk of his administrative assistant and asked her to tend to the plant.
Now don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t trying to pass off the task because I felt it was beneath me. I wasn’t trying to shrug the duty bequeathed to me by an owner of our company. I wasn’t attempting to delegate a job because I was lazy or overworked or simply not wanting to do it. Truth be told, I am a plant killer.
The day the good Lord was handing out the green thumbs, I must have been absent. I’m not complaining and I don’t feel as if I was slighted. On the contrary, I was blessed with an abundance of talents and abilities. I can cook, I can write, I am an organizer, I can manage projects and I can make people laugh–sometimes at my own expense.
But when it comes to caring for a plant, my score is a minus ten. It’s really quite ironic, because I am a true nurturer when it comes to people. But giving me a plant and asking me to keep it happy and healthy is equivalent to giving it a death sentence.
As we Baby Boomers age, we are faced with decisions about how we want to spend our golden years. One of those decisions is the choice between downsizing or staying in the home where we raised our children. Downsizing entails packing and moving, a task that is daunting to some.
Staying in the family home typically means having way too much square footage to clean and maintain. An acquaintance of mine, a lady a few years my senior, recently remarked that she was having company for dinner the following week. She said she started the cleaning process four days prior because “with six sinks and four toilets, the bathrooms alone take hours.”
Marge is divorced and has no children. I asked her when she was going to downsize into something more manageable. Not only does she have about 3,000 square feet of house, she has a half acre of lawns, shrubs and plants to tend. She explained that she enjoys working in the yard and referred to it as “gardening therapy.”
So my choice between a sprawling mecca, as seen in issues of Home and Garden, versus a compact condo with all lawn maintenance provided by a professional landscaper and covered by homeowner’s dues, was an absolute no-brainer for me.
I have no desire to spend my Saturdays being the first on line at the Home Depot or Lowe’s garden center. Walking the aisles perusing fertilizers does nothing for me. The only Miracle Gro that interests me is a push-up bra. Now don’t get me wrong, I adore flowers. But I want them delivered by an FTD representative, not growing in a garden where they are constantly requesting water, fertilizer and a good pruning.
I realized that moving into smaller digs meant parting ways with some of the memorabilia I had hoarded over the years. It meant many trips to the Goodwill store with donations of gently used clothing that was never again going to slide over this senior body. It meant exchanging oversized couches for cozy love seats. It meant moving boxes filled with items that chronicled my daughters’ lives from the time they were born–baby books, school art projects, favorite toys and clothing that was being saved for the grandkids–to my ex-husband’s attic.
But the tradeoff was worth the work. Now my Saturdays are spent as they should be–on a lounge chair by the community pool, accompanied by a bottle of sunscreen, a good book and a beverage. There are times I park myself out there early in the morning when it is still too chilly to get into the water and I stay until I can smell the grills of my neighbors as they throw on the steaks for dinner. You cannot convince me that a person in their right mind would rather spend the day with a John Deere mower, a weed whacker and a few bags of mulch.
I will admit that throughout the summer I crave home-grown tomatoes and I would certainly prefer cooking with freshly picked herbs. But these hands are all about polished nails and softening cream–not tilling rich soil and pulling pesky weeds. That is why God created farmers and others who have those green thumbs. Right, Daryle?
Cindy Phillips is a columnist for The Mountain Times,

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