Anyone who knows me well will tell you I am a wannabe minimalist. Stuff suffocates me. I daydream about living in one of those newfangled tiny houses. Whatever neurotic disease hoarders have, I have the opposite.

Thus, when Dan started getting rid of outdoor items he didn’t want to store for next summer, I jumped at the opportunity. Out went the grandkids’ plastic swimming pool and turtle sandbox, the rusted plant stand off the patio, the cracked lawn chairs, a leaky hummingbird feeder, holey gardening gloves, faded pool noodles, and pots of scraggly marigolds, once yellow and orange but now brown and leafless.

What else? I queried. I scoured the yard and patio for more potential victims of this autumnal cleansing. Then I spied it, one tiny splash of color in a landscape growing drabber by the second: my potted pink geranium.

Yes, the same geranium which has inspired the writing of more than one blog post over the past few months, the great-great-great grandchild of the geranium for whom my website is named. The geranium I almost tossed out weeks ago when I thought its life was at an end.

There it sat in the center of the round table on my patio where it had resided all spring and summer. I approached the plant with the aim of finally doing away with it.

Yes, it had been a good and faithful plant, had given me more than my money’s worth, and had spurred the writing of several articles, but all good things must come to an end. Mustn’t they?

I approached the plant. What yet do you have to give? I asked it.

It moved not a single leaf, offered no defense, no plea for indulgence, no request for more time.

“I am yours to do with as you choose,” it seemed to say.

Well, this is just great, I thought. One more thing to feel guilty about.

Did I really want to be the woman who tossed out a plant that had done nothing but pleasure her for months and still had life in it?

“You know the frost is going to get you, don’t you?” I asked it. “One of these mornings, and very soon, I will find you limp and icy, your head drooping over the side of this pot.”


“You knew when I placed you here that it wouldn’t be forever, didn’t you? You knew this day would come.”


“Most people would have thrown you away weeks ago and replaced you with a basket of artificial fall leaves and plastic pumpkins. You realize that, don’t you?”

Still nothing.

I stood with my hands on my hips and took a deep breath.

“Why would I save you?” I asked.

A leaf moved.

Had I finally asked the right question?

I leaned closer and turned an ear to it.

I listened.

“Because you can,” I thought I heard it say.

I watched Dan pull his truck out of the driveway, spilling a torn screen from its overcrowded bed.

And what of the geranium?

That geranium sits now in the middle of my kitchen island, illustrating once again an ageless truth: Grace is not extended because it has been earned. Grace has little to do with the recipient.

Grace is bestowed because someone has it to give.


7 thoughts on “THE RIGHT QUESTION”

  1. Hip hip HURRAY! This is such a beautiful story, Debbie! I could so picture all this happening and giggled at your questions, and felt your guilt, too. I love happy endings, what can I say? I’m so glad you saved your geranium because you could, and I’m so glad you shared the story with us.

    1. Thanks, Sharon! I have not inherited my mother’s green thumb but I enjoy trying to grow a few plants indoors, particularly African violets. This will be my first time to nurture a geranium through the winter.

  2. So glad you saved it, Debbie. You can even prune it back and let it go somewhat dormant over the winter months, then revive it again in the spring with more sunlight, regular watering, and fertilizer. It should take off again after a good winter’s rest! That’s my practical reply. But I certainly see a deeper truth to your writing!

    1. Thanks, Becky. I am indeed trying to save both it and my wandering jew plant that came from my mother’s house. I have no east/west windows in my house, so getting adequate sunlight is difficult. Wel’ll see. 🙂

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