When I was growing up, Mom, you always had plants started in jars, lining window ledges, peeking around books and knick-knacks on shelves. You grew basil, oregano, dill, and rosemary on the kitchen window ledges, and you grew African Violets from teeny-tiny seeds under grow lights. When someone was in the hospital or in need a thinking-of-you visit—and you had an uncanny way of knowing who needed some TLC–you tied a ribbon around pink or purple or white violets and delivered them with a hug.

Recently I discovered a wonderful new plant. The mouthful name is Kalanchoe daigremontiana, but it’s the nickname that captured my imagination: Mother of Thousands Plant. Originally from Madagascar, the succulent produces thousands of “baby” plants along the edges of its leaves (click on the plant pictures below for close ups). When the baby buds drop off the leaves, wherever they land they start new plants.  Very mature plants with tall stems will occasionally produce exotic red and purple blossoms.

Even though you never had Mother of Thousands plants around the house, this is the plant that makes me think of you. Everything you’ve done throughout your life, Mom—however private or public—made a difference in the lives of others. Neighbors, employees, children, teens and adults, all blossomed because of your kindness, your compassion, your listening ear, and mugs of herbal tea served with snickerdoodle cookies. I’ve seen the smiling, relaxed people who left your kitchen table, Mom, and I like to think that they each went on to share that with others. Paying it forward is the current expression for what they did; indirectly, that made you the Mother of Thousands of better moments in others’ lives.

Before David and I were born, you suffered four miscarriages. Maybe that’s why children have always been infinitely precious to you, Mom, but you were equally kind and supportive of all ages.  Each good deed dropped seeds that took hold, and from there more goodness was spread. In your 94 years, I imagine you improving much of the world.

You really are a Mother of Thousands, and I’m grateful that you’re my mom.

Love, Marylin                                                                 


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, friends, gardening, lessons about life, making a difference, memories for grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren

22 responses to “MOTHER OF THOUSANDS

  1. *tearfully* What a beautiful memory. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Willow

    Marylin –

    This is Willow (I got to read the story before mom and dad, so I get to respond first).

    I just wanted to tell you that I think that this blog story is so cool. Your right, it only takes a little something from someone to plant a seed. I had an English teacher in school, who really took the time to explain a novel to me that I didn’t really like (Lord of the Flies). Even though I never really ended up liking the story, the fact that she spent extra time explaining the story to me planted some seeds.

    Later I had a friend who was struggling with an assignment that I was really good at, so I spent the extra time helping her work through it.

    Another way that a seed was planted by my teacher’s help is that I do have a new appreciation for literature. I guess that is why I love reading your blog so much!

    Thanks for another fabulous story!


    • Well, Willow, my blogs aren’t literature, but I’m glad you love reading them. You’re very welcome, and I’m always glad to hear from you and your family in Missouri.
      p.s. Some day, I predict you will like LORD OF THE FLIES–until then, read, read, and keep reading. As a former English teacher myself, I appreciate that your English teacher cared enough and took the time to help you!

  3. Molly

    This may be THE blog that really explains Grandma the best!!! She did do just the LITTLE things that really did plant the seeds EVERYWHERE she went. You did a phenomenal job on this (as you always do).

    I strive to be like Grandma, and leave little seeds of happiness, education, caring, understanding, love, etc. EVERYWHERE I go!

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Molly, you are so much like Grandma that sometimes I think certain qualities, gestures, mannerisms and loving acts passed directly from her to you. Seeing her apartment, and the darling way you and the kids decorated it and fixed a fun party, washed away a lot of years. I can imagine that while Grace was there with you the years dropped away for Grandma, too, and she wasn’t sure if it was you there as a little girl, or me, but either way she had a wonderful time. And Gannon? It didn’t matter who he was; he’s such a charmer that she would just be glad to have him around.

  4. You are one of those “Mothers of Thousands” too. You touch the lives of many.with and incite inspiration and ideas that grow like wild flowers. Your enthusiasm is contagious! Hugs from the forest.

  5. WELL, what the heck happened to that post when I tried to fix it since I can’t delete it?
    Let’s see if I can post it again… AHEM…
    “You are one of those ‘Mothers of Thousands,’ too. You touch the lives of many and incite inspiration and ideas that grow like wild flowers. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Hugs from the forest.”
    I hope that reads better. 🙂 Be well and happy!

    • You are so cute, K. When the smoke from the fire finally clears away–and the antibiotics kick in and defeat the pneumonia–I’ll be back in Colorado and you all will be bringing your pages to the round table again.
      Thanks for the kind words, and I hope to see you and the others soon. But there are still smoldering fires, so you be careful, too.

  6. What an interesting plant and its way to expand. And what a wonderful analogy to use when describing your mother and all the people she’s touched in her lifetime.

    • It’s also a reminder of all the lives mothers in general touch and change. And the things our children (and grandchildren) do that give new perspective to little, common things. The plant is a fascinating reminder. Most nurseries and plant shops are starting to carry Mother of Thousands plants, and kids love them!

  7. What a great name! I had one of these plants once upon a time but I had no idea it had such a wonderful name. Now I have to get another. Outstanding post! So beautiful!

  8. How beautiful Marylin. The flower that so seems to describe your Mother in so many ways. Mother of Thousands – just perfect!

  9. Thanks Marylin,, 24 years ago today my Mom passed away, which also means that it is about a year ago we met through our blogs!

    Thanks for sharing and the plant seems very appropriate, well found …

    • I remember our first blog meeting, the pictures and story about your mom, and thinking our mothers could have met in the UK or the USA and had a nice time over cups of tea.
      The Mother of Thousands plant is also a reminder that each little bud that falls carries memories of our moms, and when they take hold the blossoms sneak up on us. Thanks for writing, Tom, especially today on the anniversary.

  10. Lovely entry, Marylin! This plant is such an appropriate metaphor for your mother’s life. I did not know that she had four miscarriages. My Mom only told me that Aunt Mary had difficulty having babies. I’m sure her experiences gave her an enhanced understanding of others’ suffering.

    • Thanks, Karen. The plant really is a perfect example all all the people my mom helped, and your mom, too.
      I think our mothers didn’t talk much about miscarriages of the details of “toxemia”–what doctors now call pre-eclampsia–that mom had with David and then also with me. Maybe as sisters they talked to each other about it, but certainly not to us.

  11. Pingback: Kalanchoe mum | Selvaganesh

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