I wanted to show you how I rearranged the patio plants so that the ones getting stressed by the afternoon sun now have more shade.

My favorite chair is off in the shady corner with plants all around it.

Below is the area across from the one above, next to the patio door. I like the proximity of the purple sweet potato vine plant from where I sit indoors.

my patio

my patio

my patio

Jade the tree has been rolled back by the gate that I keep locked, which goes into the alley behind the strip mall.

I find that I like to take photos of Jade with the weathered fence in the background for texture.

So now I want to tell you a story about visiting the nursery yesterday.

Seldom have I been given to buying plants with large lavish and showy flowers. But yesterday was an exception.

I was strolling around Southwood Nursery, and toward the back I came upon many hibiscus plants. One in particular caught my eye. It was the red Midnight Marvel Rose Mallow.

hibiscus

I thought it was very pretty, but not really my style. Typically I’m more interested in smaller blooms like the cone flower and petunia and verbena flowers.

So I walked around some more. I went in to the walled off darker area that houses the shade plants and looked around. Then I went back out and strolled around the sedum and perennials.

My cone flowers never seem to come back after one year, though I dearly love them. Neither did the Black Eyed Susans I planted last year.

It was getting warmer as I walked around. It had been cool when I arrived. I made a few more passes by the hibiscus plants, wondering why they kept drawing me to them.

Finally I just plopped the one above in my cart and went to pay.

patio plants

Once home, I situated it on top of the two big galvanized containers. I kept staring at it. I went inside, sat down, and stared at it some more. Something was niggling at me that I hadn’t quite figured out.

And then it hit me. It reminded me of Abi.

Abi was so full of spirit, so full of life. She was a princess and she demanded to be treated like one. She was loud and boisterous and funny.

She was like my red hibiscus, opening up her flower to everyone to get attention.

red hibiscus

I got up from the couch and walked over to the patio door to look more closely. By then I was crying of course.

Because Abi had guided me toward a showy plant with scarlet flowers spanning 8-9 inches that would remind me of her.

It even has rich wine colored leaves that are a delight unto themselves.

You know I am taking this grief thing a day at a time.

Yesterday when I left here I first went to get gas. As I got back in my car and pulled the safety belt across my body to secure it, my memory flashed on bringing Abi home at the end of each day after Dr Poteet gave her fluids.

She was so small by that time that I put her next to me and pulled the safety belt across both of us. She was so weak by then that she didn’t resist.

I would drive her home singing some nonsense all the way, trying not to let her hear the tears in my voice.

I was losing her a little more each day and it was unbearable, but something I had no power to change.

red hibiscus

In the above photo, the red blooms look like they’re reaching over to kiss the sun on the fence. That’s my Abi. So full of love and mischief.

I am learning so many things. I have learned that the first month was very tough. But I was somewhat anesthetized by shock.

Then after that phase I entered another one. I had thought that as time went by, the pain would lessen a bit each day.

I was wrong. After the shock I am fully facing the loss with nothing to protect me from the assault. The new reality.

The pain is sharper, like walking on pebbles with your bare feet. Every memory stings.

And so I sit here and gaze at the red hibiscus waving gently in the morning breeze.

In my patio garden, it is like an actress on a stage. Raised above the other plants and enjoying its place on a throne. Spirited and sassy.

Just like my Abi, loving the spotlight.

“Let us dance in the sun, wearing wild flowers in our hair…”
― Susan Polis Schutz

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48 Comments

  1. What a beautiful post … so sweet and loving. May your “Abi” flower bring you many hours of peace and joy.

  2. Brenda your red hibiscus is beautiful…love the way you have described about Abi too! My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  3. Your red hibiscus is beautiful. I bought a white one with a deep pink center last year. There was no sign of it returning this spring when I went into the hospital for knee replacement, still no sign when I came home, but during the first two weeks of my recuperation, I discovered it had grown into a nice sized plant on the first day I felt like toddling to the front door and looking out over what was my flower garden last year. It is about to bloom now, and my roses bloomed and my black eyed Susans came back on heir own and even planted themselves into a large flower pot that would have sat empty otherwise. I also have one lovely petunia basket that was a get well gift from my friend. Thank heaven for perennial flowers and sweet friends.
    I believe the variety of hibiscus you bought may be one that will come back every year. It sure is bright and pretty Just like Abi.

  4. Well now…..you may not see or feel it, but I think you are improving just a little since the loss of your precious Abi. In your heart, you need things that remind you of your loved one. When my sister Alberta passed away, one day I looked at a small spot in my garden and thought of her and so I began a little memory garden. At Lowe’s I came across an Alberta Spruce and it was the first plant in her garden and so it has grown over the years. Every time I go by there, I think of her, just as you will with your lovely red hibiscus. I think they are perennials and will come back each year, either by planting in the ground or in a cool room or basement. Seed pods can also be saved. Take care Brenda and enjoy your pretty patio this summer!!

    1. I hope I am improving. Las night I went through a particularly hard period when I felt such despair. I’m so glad you all share your stories and memories with me. And that you created a garden to remind you of your sister. It will be your beacon of light to memories of your life together.

  5. Tonight we buried my daughter’s 14 year old dog. The grandchildren are devastated. I knew you would understand. Little did I know when dear little Abi passed, that we would be going through the same sorrow so soon. I knew you would understand.

    1. Of course I understand. The sharp pain, the devastation, the shock. I’m so very sorry. I wouldn’t wish this agony on anyone. But if we love, we eventually feel it. And that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

  6. Brenda, I too have relived many times over each moment of those last final hours. I remember talking to my boy endlessly and I think it happened in part not only because my anxiety was so high but because I knew he was leaving me. When I relive those times I don’t do it because I wish to wallow in sorrow. No, I do it because I’m searching for answers.

    There is a story of a man who laid his dog to rest which may be on the Rainbow Bridge site but I’m not recalling for sure. Regardless, the man commented that when he laid his dog to rest he had a strange feeling. He said it was though his dog looked up to him and said, “thank you for taking care of me” and the man turned to his dog and said, “no … thank you for taking care of me”.

    In so much as we took care of them, they too took care of us and I believe they took care of us in ways that were even unbeknownst to our being at that time. When they pass though, oh my God hell fire reigns and why o why do we feel this way if not for the fact that angels came to stay awhile?

    I thought your comment not long ago about there being no period was telling and I reflected on that comment for some time. I began to wonder if there is no period because there isn’t mean’t to be one. May not sound like rocket science by no means but the fact that no period seems to come is probably because there isn’t mean’t to be one.

    I oddly find that news to be hopeful. I certainly realize not every one chooses to believe in the hereafter. Yet … without the hereafter there’s no tomorrow and with no tomorrow no hope whatsoever that all our dear ones gone from us …are only gone for a little while.

    1. Your words are so profound that I’m crying reading them. I love the story about the man and the Rainbow Bridge. Abi and Charlie kept me moving forward seven years ago when I left Texas. If not for them, I don’t know that I’d have had the strength to put one foot in front of the other. We have other loved ones, people of course. But for me, it was the pupsters who were by my side every moment of every day. I just realized that I can’t call them “the pupsters” anymore. There’s only one now.

  7. Your plant is beautiful and I am happy that you bought it and it reminds you of Abi! I was pushing my cart in Hobby Lobby and a woman was approaching with Westie in her cart. I told her I had one for 16 1/2 years. She said hers was four. She said they are definitely not for everyone and I agreed. All of sudden, I had to leave the store. My Molly has been gone for two years and memories came flooding back. We never forget our little fur babies – they always have a piece of our heart. Your memories are still very fresh – just go with whatever you feel. Only time will take care of your heart. Sending you ((((hugs))) and you have the best patio flowers in blogland.

    1. Oh, how sweet of you! It’s nice to be able to share memories, even with strangers. But the feelings they evoke can pull us right back toward our grief in a flash. Yes, our fur babies will always have a piece of our heart. I can’t think of anyone I’d rather give the pieces of my heart to than pets who provide unconditional love.

  8. I am so glad you trusted the pull you were receiving and went with it! I have always been so comforted by plants, trees, and animals. When I see a daisy, I am reminded of my mom. Cardinals bring memories of my husband. You have created such a peaceful outdoor haven and with your newest arrival it is even more special!

    1. I think as we get older we trust those “pulls” more. Daisies and cardinals are beautiful, so I’m glad they bring you memories of your loved ones.

  9. Last year at this time, my dog Bradley and I shared wild blackberries as he went for his walk. Sudden, unexpected health crisis(cancer) took him in a few short days Labor Day 2017. Today, I ate my first berry and cried today

    Your hibiscus will thrive in the bright light and heat

    1. Those memories, those moments and anniversaries and events, they hit us hard, don’t they? I’m so sorry you lost your Bradley. Thanks for sharing that with me.

  10. We cut hibiscus back, put in garage and water over the winter and they come back yearly. At least this works for a few years. Not sure if the heat inside would be too much.

    1. I just don’t know where I’d put it. No garage, and I wouldn’t want Charlie around it, as I think it’s poisonous. Which is why I have it so high up.

  11. My Mom had hibiscus plants also . Yours is beautiful . My Mom always brought them in the house in winter . Just imagine what a beautiful sight if you can get it to bloom in the house in the middle of winter .

  12. That’s quite a striking plant. There are rose mallows that are perennial natives to Oklahoma so they make it through the winter just fine, but I don’t know how a rose mallow will do all winter in a pot. They get about four feet tall so yours will make quite a statement on your patio! And I read that butterflies and hummingbirds like the big red flowers, so you should get some entertainment along with the blossoms. I’d say you have hit upon a delightful plant that will give a lot back to you, just as Abi did.

    1. I hope there are lots of butterflies and hummingbirds visiting. Abi was a huge part of my life and I miss her so very much.

  13. The red hibiscus is beautiful, just like Abi. I have to tell you my rose bush story. My son Joe died in the fall of ‘95. The following spring I found a rose called “Just Joey”. I’m not much of a gardener but had to buy it. Every year it only produced 1 rose. The year my mother in law died it produced 2 roses. The year after my mother died (she loved roses) it got so big & produced so many flowers that I had to buy a trellis to keep it from laying on the ground. It was amazing. It only lasted a couple of years after that with only 1 flower per year. Enjoy the beautiful red flowers & smile for Abi.

  14. Perhaps you will do as I do, and stroke the leaves and ask how Abi is today, and say Good Morning Abi, and Good Night Abi….I do that with the tree in my Dad’s garden every time I’m out there. It soothes me some how.

    xoxo

  15. You will enjoy that so much. The color is so rich. I’d love to find one that color. It will forevee remind you of your loving Abi.

  16. Brenda, I’m not sure, but your hibiscus may not be able to weather outside as it gets colder. Plan for a place in the house near sunshine. Your garden looks just wonderful.

    1. I know. But it will be worth it to watch it bloom into fall. I’ll do some research and see if I can bring it inside. I’ll probably plant another tree on my patio in Abi’s memory come fall.

    1. I’ve never seen such a full of life and spirited dog as my Abi. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such loss as I have for her. I haven’t had a lot of people in my life.

  17. The hibiscus is a wonderful addition to your patio and tribute to your little girl…and I like the way you arranged everything!

    I read a quote from Katherine Hepburn the other day and it made me think of you: “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” May your tomorrows become gentler days.

  18. What a beautiful hibiscus and I’m glad it reminds you of baby girl Abi. You are doing exactly as you should Brenda, taking one day at a time and going with the ebbs and flows of the loss. It is perfectly normal and I know I’m a broken record on this, but everyone griefs in different ways and at different paces. Continue to put your grief to pen and paper as I think writing about it helps you. Enjoy sitting out in that beautiful garden with handsome boy Charlie. Enjoy your afternoon my friend!
    Carol and Molly

    1. I’ve been reading a lot about grieving. And time and time again it says: Write your feelings down. So Carol and Molly, I’m already doing that and I think it’s helping.

  19. Your new plant is so beautiful. Now you will always think of Abi when you look at it. A good memory of her when she was full of vim and vigor.

  20. Brenda,

    I love your spunky new hibiscus! IT is a beautiful plant and a wonderful reminder of your sweet spunky loving girl.

    One day at a time my friend, some days hurt like hell, some you are numb and some happy. Some days life seems normal and others it seems out of kilter. Take the joy from each day and know that Abbie was loved and loved you. And now your have Charlie to blossom and grow with!

    Have a good day! Hugs to you and Charlie!

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