Quite a few years ago before I moved out to the acreage we’re living on now, I lived in the city. I had a comfy house in a quiet neighborhood. I liked the house and the flowers that grew around it.
I remember the day when my real estate agent was showing me that house before I bought it. The owner of the house was home and hoped we didn’t mind if she stayed in the house while we looked around. Of course we didn’t mind and started talking to her. She was a darling lady of 89 years. She introduced herself to us, Jean Morrison. She was a chatty lady and gave us the history of the house and her life. She took us on a tour of the house and pointed out all kinds of interesting things. The real estate agent and myself were amused with her stories.
The tour took much longer than a regular tour would take. Jean told us how every year she’d put a coating of black sealer on the driveways herself. The one driveway was double wide and there was a smaller driveway leading into the garage. She did a good job, that driveway looked amazing. Next she showed us her many rose bushes. She had long stem red, peach and yellow roses. There were a few different pink rose bushes also. She informed me that all the rose plants needed a bit of care but not too much fussing. We walked around the house and she pointed out a couple of lady slipper plants they dug up while out for a drive one Sunday. She also didn’t want us to tell anyone because “it’s illegal to dig them up from growing in the wild and plant them in a city garden”. Next she showed us her cactus plant. That was the first time I’d ever seen a cactus plant growing in Manitoba. I thought cacti needed very hot weather all year long to grow. Jean said she brought the plant to this house from her childhood town. It had been growing and thriving for many years. She also told us that years ago during lean times her family would make jam from the cactus fruit. We had never heard that before and thought it was interesting. Jean was quite the character with all her stories. I got just a great feeling from the house and I did buy it.
Jean moved to a senior living complex in the same city and we continued to be friends. We’d get together for coffee, lunch or shopping. It was great spending time with her. As she got older and her health got worse, she moved to live with her daughter in a small town halfway across the province. I didn’t see Jean again after that. Her daughter would send Christmas cards with updates of how her mom was doing.
After a couple of years I got a letter saying Jean had passed away at the age of 97. In that last letter Jean’s daughter was thankful for the friendship I had with her mother and for keeping her mom informed of the neighborhood activities.
When I decided to sell the house I knew I wanted to bring some perennials and the cactus plant to my new place. We picked the perfect location to plant the cactus. It’s on the south-west side of the house and gets lots of sunlight.
Every year at this time the cactus blooms and I remember the first time I met Jean and her showing us around her house. I remember her telling us about the flowers and the cactus. And to this day I wonder what cactus jam tastes like.