Both of my grandmothers lived with me growing up. My parents were immigrants and soon after they established themselves they arranged to bring their parents over to the US. They immigrated from the Soviet Union, and for a period of time we had all four grandparents under our roof. Both of my grandmothers loved plants. They nurtured them. They'd teach me which leaves to pluck out of the fields outside my school to treat warts, and which berries to eat, and where the best mulberry trees were, and which mushrooms to pick and which to leave. We'd have family mushroom hunting afternoons and spend the evenings frying up and marinating mushrooms.
My paternal grandmother treated most things with aloe. Burn? Aloe. Cold? Aloe. It weirded me out. It was snotty and runny and goopy and tasted bad. She passed away a few years ago. When she was getting worse she had to move out of her apartment and we had to distribute her belongings.
I took the two huge aloe plants in their large terracotta planters. They were overgrown and needed to be transferred, so I was able to make many many little plants and still have a huge overgrown pot. I distributed the little plants to friends and family, and continue to do so to this day.
Every time I rub aloe on my own kids after an afternoon in the sun, I remember my grandmother. I love that she lives on in my home through my aloe plant, and has now found her way into many other homes of the people I love. Grandma is all around me, filling my home with aloe and spider plants and my own mulberry hunts with my children. A little part of her will propagate through the generations.
Jessya is a biology teacher, mother, wife, and traveler foodie that lives in the Chicago suburbs.