This plant has followed my family through the generations. I couldn’t let him die.

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This plant has followed my family through the generations.  I couldn’t let him die.


My mother’s dieffenbachia was always in the background of my life, quietly beautifying a room with its white-speckled green leaves. In my childhood home in Texas, it sat in a pot on red adobe tiles that were cool to the touch of bare feet, even when it was 105 degrees outside.

I don’t remember my mother ever watering or tending the plant – she was right there, while she and I worked in the kitchen, peeling shrimp, shelling corn, and washing fresh peaches from our tree. My mother received dieffenbachia from my great-grandmother, Mom. Mom died before I was born, but I was told she taught my mother how to cook. I imagined them side by side in a hot kitchen with flour and paprika everywhere, with the dieffenbachia in the next room, making the house a little livelier.

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