When my mother-in-law became housebound, we planted hibiscus and autumn sage in the corner of the backyard across from her bedroom window. After her cataract surgery, Jeanne said with a grin that the brilliant red of the hibiscus about knocked her over.
Her eyes were reborn through that surgery a year before her passing, but the rest of her body was in a steep decline. She slept more and dragged herself out of bed for breathing treatments and doctor appointments.
In early December, the month when North Texas finally gives way to autumn, I went out to the backyard to do my fall pruning. The breeze was light on the back of my neck as I cut back all the leaning hibiscus stalks that had lost their blossoms. I thought of Jeanne resting in her bed, and I felt sad to cut back her favorite flowers, even though had already drawn their energy deep inside for winter.
That Christmas was our last with Jeanne. The hibiscus put out a riot of blooms in spring, and Jeanne enjoyed them when she could between doctor visits and physical therapy and breathing treatments and antibiotic infusions. She spent the spring and summer seeing specialists and trying new treatments, while the hibiscus blossomed all summer long and then, in fall, began again again to diminish.