African Violets and Forgiveness: A Tribute

My Aunt Amber taught me a great deal about being independent, tough, resilient and kind. And one of the best lessons she taught me came through an experience I had with her African violet.

Aunt Amber 1

Growing up on a farm meant not much time or money for vacations, so it was momentous when Dad declared he’d take a few days off. And a happy day it was during my 9th summer when we packed the car for a four-hour road trip to visit Aunt Amber and Uncle Clifford.

When it was time for me to go to bed on their cozy living room couch, I fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly in the middle of the night, I found myself disoriented, and sitting on a very hard ‘seat.’ As consciousness replaced confusion, I realized I was on the coffee table. Apparently I was doing some ‘sleep sitting,’ which is similar to sleepwalking only for less ambitious children.

When I awoke to morning’s light I visualized a catastrophe. Someone had demolished Aunt Amber’s prized African violet that had been showcased on the coffee table. The impact of last night’s “sleep sitting” incident sunk in, and I was unable to look away from my heinous act of destruction.

Under the circumstances, I did what any eight year old would do who has committed a crime against plants. I wrapped myself in lovingly hand-made quilts I didn’t deserve and pretended I was asleep.

Maybe no one would notice the African violet had given up its luscious leaves and pink blossoms, reduced to a single, pitiful stalk. Maybe I could deny any knowledge of what happened since I was asleep when the deed was done. Maybe I could point to the family dog as the perpetrator because it’s possible the gentle mutt could snap and release his inner Cujo.

I trembled with anxiety awaiting Aunt Amber’s reaction to the mutilation of her beautiful plant. It was then that all my alibis became obsolete as she tossed her head back and did the unimaginable.

She laughed.

This story became a thing of family legends, repeated through the decades. Always with laughter and most of all, forgiveness.

To show how thoroughly she forgave me, when she was in her final days she gave me all four of her African violets. I was fearful and reluctant. What if I couldn’t keep them alive? What if they didn’t bloom or rotted at the stem? What if I repeated history and beat them to death in my sleep?

But she had no such misgivings because she understood forgiveness, and not holding grudges, and how to protect a young girl’s tender heart.

How has your life been changed by the gift of forgiveness?

Photo credit: depositphotos_Copyright:raywoo
©2016, Stevens. All rights reserved.

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12 thoughts on “African Violets and Forgiveness: A Tribute

  1. What a sweet and wonderful story! I have a few African violets in my house to remind me of an elderly friend I had when I was in my 20s. Virginia seemed old at the time (in her early 70s) and was an early feminist, working as a single woman in the corporate world for long years before she married in her 40s. She was a strong, intelligent woman who I admired and who, for some reason, loved me. My African Violets remind me of her, and since I’ve read your story, will also remind me the value of forgiveness and laughter.

    • How lovely that your friend entrusted her African Violets with you. I’m happy you can add even more positive connotations to your violets when you give them love. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  2. When I was a little girl, about four or so, I decided it was a good idea to take my bouncy ball(about thee size of a small basketball), to my grandparent’s deck. Everyone was out there, so I wanted to join the party; with my ball of course.
    There were some beautiful, tall, glistening glasses of freshly homemade lemonade lined up on a tray just waiting for me to try. But first, I needed to get some bouncing in – I needed to work up my thirst for the ultimate quenching.
    My Grampie warned me against the bouncing, especially so close to the glasses. But of course, being the little girl who constantly chose to “live on the edge” I continued on, bouncing away. Besides, Grampie warnedme, that added some thrill into the mix.
    Bou…. CRASH. There goes the lemonade glasses…drip.. could hear the lemonade dripping through the wooden cracks of the deck on to the rocks underneath.
    I immediately looked at Grampie, and he looked back at me…
    I slowly walked towards him, stopped at his feet, climbed on to his lap and put my nose to his and said…”You ain’t gona hurt me are ya Gramp-poy?”

    Ever since, that was a story he would tell, (with lots of laughter) any chance he could get.
    That was likely the last story he told to me before the Alzheimer’s kicked in. So, when given the opportunity, I too will tell it..with plenty of laughter in my heart!

  3. Another wonderful read. I have discovered something about myself in reading your blogs. I have discovered that I like blog reading! I am not an avid reader like most in my family, but a “short reader”. I do enjoy your writing as it is quick witted, always makes a point, and doesn’t take me all day to read it. Win-Win-Win! 🙂

    • Short reading is where it is at! People still read a lot today but in shorter bursts. So glad you are enjoying the blog.

  4. Thank you Molly! This is a wonderful story and it was nice to hear it this morning. As I look around my house and see some of her things, I am reminded of her everyday and I miss her.

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