“The family requests no flowers….”

I like flowers and potted plants, but funeral flowers and potted plants are a burden I’d rather not have.

There’s a china doll plant in my apartment that started out as a healthy, bushy potted plant given the family at the time of my Mom’s February 2013 memorial service. Since I’m the only family member who lives in the state, let alone this town, all funeral plants come to me.

Everything I found on the china doll’s care says you shouldn’t move it once you put it in the ideal spot. The spot I put it after the memorial service was an available spot, not an ideal one. Ideal spots for plants are rare when you have two cats. The plant’s response – its decline – tells me the spot isn’t ideal.

I’ve watched it lose ground, not responding to my care. Each dropped leaf reminds me of how I watched my Mom slowly spiral down to her death, the feeling of hopelessness and pending loss I felt, and the recognition that this wasn’t a time she’d pull out of the decline because she was at life’s end.

Telling you that, I’m foretelling the fate of the china doll plant, too, I fear.

Of all the flowers and potted plants received from well-meaning friends when my Dad died in November 2008 and, now, my Mom’s death this year, only a Philodendron is alive and well. Of course, a Philodendron is a resilient plant even a person with a black thumb can grow to enviable size. The china doll is alive, for now.

Unlike for my Mom, I have no happy attachment to the plant. I almost wish I could toss it now and spare myself its slow decline. I won’t of course, but past results with funeral plants suggests that plant is doomed. It makes me sad because it is a funeral plant, one given by dear friends instead of a memorial gift to the American Red Cross, or the Presbyterian Women group at our church, or because I specifically noted in Mom’s obituary that the family requested no flowers.

If I could do it again, I’d re-word the obituary: “The family requests no flowers or potted plants.”