Aunt Ruby is the single surviving sibling from my mother's family of seven girls and two boys. She lived with us when I was very young and we were always close. Since we moved back to NC, I try to visit Aunt Ruby often and call her at least once every week.
She has tended a huge green plant for years. It is so large that it reaches the ceiling and she has to get someone to move it for her. It spends the summer on her porch and occupies most of the guest bedroom during the winter. It is huge. In October Aunt Ruby told me excitedly that her plant "had a baby," the second one in many years. She said she had potted the "baby" for me and wanted me to have it. I gulped as she said, "I don't know how many years I have left and this way you could have a little part of me."
I wanted to tell her that was a responsibility far too awesome. (Not to mention that I tend not to have good luck with any house plants save African Violets.) Aunt Ruby is active but she is elderly by any standards, so she does not have a lot of years left. But the idea that the plant will represent her in some way is frightening indeed. To make the "gift" even more burdensome is the fact that the plant is ugly.
But what could I say? Except a gracious "thank you, I love it." I made a visit to Aunt Ruby in late October and she proudly showed me the plant and gave me detailed instructions on re-potting, watering, fertilizing, etc. When I got ready to leave, I tenderly placed the plant in my car. As I started to drive away, my aunt called out, "Make sure you take good care of Lil' Ruby." Lil' Ruby??? She has named the plant Ruby? And I must care for it forever?
The plant had two leaves on it when I brought it to our house. I put it near a window with south-eastern exposure and Lil' Ruby loves it there! She has grown to a frightening degree and given me a new leaf already.
The large leaf is more than 14 inches in diameter.
And still growing.
She ADORES my house!
I have no idea (nor does Aunt Ruby) what specific plant this is. I suspect a type of Philodendron but only because I can't think of anything else it could be. Every time I talk with Aunt Ruby, she asks about the plant as if it were one of my children. She was delighted when I sent her a photograph of Ruby's new leaf.
So I'm stuck with a giant plant with an equally giant responsibility...to care for it and make it thrive at least as long as Aunt Ruby does.
I will share a secret with you. I secretly call "Lil' Ruby" by a more appropriate name. "Audrey II."