Some four and a half months ago, right before the great conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the sky, my mother had got a present… from the dead. Literally. She did not like it, and even hated it. Nevertheless, she kept it for some days on her windowsill. First, in the full view. Then, hidden behind the curtain. When in the full view, the cactus stood there irritating and annoying her, reminding of something deep inside her that she struggled to comprehend and make peace with. After two days of struggling, my mother took the cactus, put it into the black bin bag and through it into the rubbish pipe. It spiralled all way down and hit the bottom. She leaned closer to the gaping hole of the rubbish pipe, and listened. Yes, it did hit the bottom, the pot hopefully going into pieces. She then went inside her flat, happy with herself and the solution she had come with.
Now, the poor cactus that ended up in the rubbish bin had been given to my mother by… my brother. He, in his turn, had got it from his friend whose mother died some months ago. The cactus was one of the potted plants she had in her home.
When my brother’s friend was giving his mother’s cactus to him, he said the following: ‘Here is a present from my dead mother to yours.’ I must add that while he was saying this he was not entirely sober. Nevertheless, the message was attached to the present, and my brother happily brought the cactus and the message home.
On seeing the cactus and on hearing the message my mother got very cross but seemingly accepted the present. She had put it onto the windowsill and as she looked at it a feeling of dissatisfaction arouse in her which then transformed into annoyance, then anger, then disturbance, and then, finally, she could not look at the poor plant anymore and decided upon its fate.
Later, talking to my mother, I asked her if she knew the true meaning of the present that she had received. She replied that it was no present but some unwanted thing of a dead woman. Perhaps, but the thing is my mother is not good at reading signs or interpreting symbols. It is a pity though, for the meaning and symbolism of a cactus bears much significance, especially in connection to motherly love, warmth, protection, and endurance. Since cactuses survive in harsh conditions, they came to represent unconditional motherly love. In addition, cactus has some medicinal properties. Native Americans used its pulp and juice to treat wounds. Furthermore, in the secret language of flowers, cactus means ‘I burn’. For, the spines of a cactus are difficult to extricate from the skin, as the flames of Cupid are to extinguish from the heart.
So, the significance of the present received by mother was evident, if only she was aware. It was meant to serve as a reminder of the endurance of motherly love, and that it can cure any wound. For, it is so strong that is difficult to extinguish such a love from one’s heart, no matter what. The message was intended to tell her about herself and also her own mother. At this point, I must share a piece of vital information here. Five years before my grandmother’s death she said that she extricates her daughter — my mother — from her heart. The reason for that was my mother’s eternal non-loving attitude towards everybody around her. It was a hard decision to make for my grandmother, for she was a loving person.
Now, my mother’s argument for throwing the cactus away was that it was ugly. My response to it was that there are not ugly plants. Nature in any form is beautiful and ugliness comes from our own perceptions and images that we place upon the world around us.
The ‘ugliness’ of the cactus, as my mother claimed, came from its twisted shape. Its stems were intertwined in a complex way, signifying some ‘riddle’ associated with motherly love or even a knot that had been tied long time ago and now begged to be untied. It is this complexity and work associated with untying the tied knots that scared my mother away. She did not want to put any effort into doing so. Even simply looking at the cactus annoyed her, i.e. the work that lay ahead of her.
Another reason for my mother’s finding the present ‘scary’ or ‘unpleasant’ was the fact that the message that was passed to her from my brother’s friend contained the word ‘dead’. For, she does not regard presents from the dead as something to celebrate. It might be so, but what she really failed to understand is that the dead person is only physically dead, but her soul still exists outside of the physical realm. For this reason, souls can still communicate their messages to their loved ones. They do it through other people, events, or energies that form physical objects. The message that had been passed through my brother’s friend to my mother came from a soul that during her life on earth was also a mother. Her message in the form of the cactus was that she as a mother reaches out to another mother. Going even further, it was, in fact, the message from my mother’s mother — my grandmother. Thus, it is my grandmother and the mother of my brother’s friend who have teamed up to send the message to my mother. Yet, all she saw was the ugliness of the cactus and all she heard was the word ‘dead’.
When I learnt from my mother about this story of the cactus, I was greatly saddened, as I had realised that my mother was deaf to love, especially to figuring out the unconditional love. The very love that she has very little understanding of. My mother was given a chance to work on herself, pay attention to the present, and with its help to dig deeper into her own soul and heal her wounds. Yet, she resorted to simply getting rid of something that was making her feel awkward, explaining it by her intuition telling her to do so. I just wonder what intuition one can talk about when one cannot even see simple signs and synchronicities of life…
Personally, I believe that presents similar to the one that my mother had gotten are for a reason. Some receive roses, some a bunch of violets, and some have to deal with a cactus, growing to admire and appreciate it.