Good Medicine

Jim tells me he admires the thick patch of aloe vera flowing down through my rock garden to the patio, a green spiky river very far from Styx.  I tell him there’s a story behind this, and here it is.

Once when I was waiting for my mother to finish up a doctor’s appointment at the Queen’s Medical Center, Physicians’ Office Building #3, I needed a cigarette.  I used to take my life in my hands back then, regularly, to the tune of a pack and a half a day.

A veteran of accompanying both my parents to many doctor’s appointments, I knew well the places where I could smoke at many hospitals and clinics around Honolulu, those out of the way places where security guards couldn’t find me. At $9 a pack then, being asked to put out a cigarette was a hard thing to deal with, so I’d become a smoking ninja accountant, stealthy and cost conscious.

On this morning I sought out a secret smoking spot at the makai end of the building, directly over an air-conditioning overflow vent, in the summer especially, both cooling myself and blowing the smoke away at the same time in all seasons.

As I stood there puffing, all of a sudden I was heart-attacked from above by a stray stalk of aloe vera falling within a foot of me, splatting on the concrete sidewalk.

Having just cheated death, I looked up, saw that each floor had wrap-around planters, and all the planter spaces were jammed with aloe vera.

An inveterate gardener, I told myself that this was obviously a sign from the god who watches over gardeners, this happenstance, I would imagine, very much akin to being struck by a bolt out of the blue, or from above, all Zeus and lighting bolt like.

Before going upstairs to take my mom home, I put the stalk in my trunk.  Of course once I parked outside my house, I forgot all about the aloe vera, so it sat for several days in the dark, without soil or water.

For whatever reason I needed to get into my trunk, I discovered the hapless stalk, brown and shriveled.  Aghast, I worried if it were dead, took it down into my yard, and laid it, covered with a bit of soil, a mini-burial as it were, in my rock garden.

Friends, never fear a tragic ending, as my concerns about that baby having expired were absolutely unnecessary.  I now have acres of aloe vera.  Not only is it cascading from my rock garden to my patio, but I have it in pots all over the place.

It’s good that stalk did not strike me on the head and kill me.  Had I died, no one would have picked it up, and it too might be no more.  But it is, I assure you.  Oh yes, it is more and more and more.

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