When most people think of azaleas, they think of large, usually red, flowering bushes. This is not the case for mine. It is a little thing, even after being here for almost 9 years.

It isn’t actually *my* azalea, it is my mother-in-law’s. When we bought this house, we invited them to move in with us for reasons. She asked if she could bring the two azalea bushes from their old house to plant here. I didn’t see a reason why not, they were beautiful at their old house. So, my husband dug them up  and planted them here in our new flower beds.

Not long after, one of the bushes died. The root system was damaged when they dug it up to the point it couldn’t be saved. This one wasn’t faring much better. It was important to me to save it since these azaleas belonged to my mother-in-law’s mother. She had dug them up from her mother’s yard when she had passed and planted them in her own yard. This would be their third home.

Determined to save this one, I researched and made a plan. I ended up cutting it so far back that only two little sticks – branches less than 12in tall that had green leaves – were left. We bought special azalea food for it and I religiously pruned and weeded it for years trying to encourage new growth.

Two years ago, it began to bloom once again. It started to fill out and now it looks like it is just a new bush, not one that should be decades old. This year I realized that it is saved, it is thriving and growing. It will be here long after my mother-in-law has passed and I will be able to tell the story to my children and maybe even my grandchildren of where it came from and how it survived with a little love and care.

It isn’t much to look at now as spring is just starting. In a few months the leaves with be a jewel green and ruby flowers will open up their faces to the sun. I have no doubt that in another 9 years it will be closer to its former glory and be a show piece of my flower garden.

I am sure there is a metaphor here, somewhere. Maybe a better writer than me could tell how just a little time, attention, patience, and kindness can help a struggling thing thrive and grow.

But, there is only me and so I can only  tell how I am looking forward to the flowers.