It could've been my birthday, it could've been Christmas. I honestly no longer remember. And, really, it doesn't matter. Because what my mother gifted me, what she gave me that holiday or that year, has ultimately remained a conversation piece.
Vern the Fern.
Vern the Googly-Eyed Fern, to be exacter.
Vern was consummated as the result of watching some old SNL skits. After laughing incessantly at a Christopher Walken piece--one titled "Indoor Gardening Tips from a Man Who's Very Scared of Plants"--my mother had a "grand" idea. You see, in the skit, Walken, over and over, asserts that he doesn't trust plants. "So I put googly eyes on them. That way, I know I can trust them. I can make eye contact." And so, from palms to ferns to leaves big and small, there are googly eyes glued to each plant.
My mother, mischievous and creative, decided to hot glue googly eyes on a fake fern. She gifted it to me alongside "The Best of Christopher Walken." And I laughed. Oh, how I laughed at my Vern.
That was at least four years ago, now. Four years I've had my little Vern. And I still tote him with me--from apartment to apartment, to storage garages and dorm rooms. And each time a new friend would visit my apartment, and every semester I had a new roommate, they'd point to Vern and ask, "What is THAT?" And I'd tell them. I'd tell them about my mom, about Christopher Walken, about SNL and laughter and fun.
Nowadays, Vern guards my living room windows. He sits in a pot crafted by my brother, who took pottery his junior year of high school. But Vern, who was once the lone "plant," now has a couple of friends. The parlor palm was a freebie, one of 2,000 plants that Engledow Group gave away as part of National Indoor Plant Week. And then the calluna--a gift from new friends, from people who encouraged me to find myself again in all this.
And, yes, things are messy right now. Emotions and heartstrings are pulled taut, in all directions. But when I come home from work, at least, there is a bit of sunshine in the windows, a bit of greenery on the sills. And even though I still have tears and stress and heartache, there's always cheer, always laughter, to be found in the leafy bits of life.