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.