The Healing Process

After almost two weeks without a good look at my garden, it would appear that the rains have been good to the parched soil. My mother Nancy Asbell is recovering as well. After three near death experiences she finally has a proper hospital room with her name on it, and we’re turning our attention to resurrecting her career as an artist and piano teacher. I’ve also been able to relax enough that gardening can once again become a priority. Weeds be warned!

Though taking photos for my homesick mom were the priority, I couldn’t resist yanking down some errant passionflower vines and flat out murdering the weeds that had proliferated in my absence. I’ve been using the Cobrahead weeder that came in the mail a couple months ago for rooting out the nutsedges and halting the eager St. Augustinegrass in its footsteps. The bromeliads are really in rare form lately and letting their prettiest colors show now that they've been exposed to the stresses of sun, drought and a lack of fertilizer. Neoregelias always look nice under pressure.

I haven’t seen much of the garden before today, but there’s been plenty of horticultural goodness for me to get excited about between my home and the Mayo Clinic. Along the interstate I’m able to catch a brief glimpse of a glistening pitcher plant bog with yellow flowers dancing deceptively above the deadly insect trapping pitchers. I’ve seen pitcher plant bogs before, but was surprised to discover a solid patch of the rare carnivorous plants right at the margins of a noisy interstate. Life goes on.

The houseplants of the Mayo Clinic are also enjoyable if not commonplace. Guzmanias and pothos are used at the feet of Christmas palms along the main lobby, lady palms and neoregelias grace the educational displays and other tough houseplants like white bird of paradise, dracaena and rubber ficus find employment in other hallways of the complex. The other day I was delighted to find that the albomarginated neoregelias had been swapped out with even more unusual ones with tight orange blushing rosettes that had clearly been growing in sunnier places.

Have you ever given away your favorite plant without realizing it? I brought a desert rose (adenium) to my mother’s ICU room two days ago but my gesture was met with disapproval. NO PLANTS ALLOWED. I couldn’t put it in the car – the temperature was near a hundred degrees! One of the nurses was clearly in love with my desert rose plant, and she told me that a large one that she’s enjoyed for years was now dying. After sending the grateful nurse off with my prized adenium, I realized with horror that one of the reasons I loved it so much was that my wife bought it for me on our honeymoon! Boy was I in trouble.

Before my mom left the house in an ambulance she wrote a note reminding herself to pay the 10% of her income for the month to The Lupus Foundation. Yes, $30 was 10% of her income for last month's piano lessons and art sales.

Mom's happy as can be! It must be the yummy food from the mayo.
So there you have it in a nutshell. My garden is healing and so is my mom. I'm blaming her recovery on all of the yummy food at the Mayo Clinic... you can't go wrong when your hospital is named after a condiment! She was on a 900 calorie diet but now they've raised it to 1500 so she can rebuild her strength since any weight you see is only fluid... Her kidneys have stopped their path of destruction, the infected leg is better and will no longer have to be removed, and the fifty pounds of water weight that she gained in a matter of two days has now diminished by twenty. This news is all fine and dandy, but she’s not out of the woods yet. Her eyes are bleeding from the eye drops that prevent her from going blind, cellulitus infections, rheumatory arthritis (minus pain killers), brain swelling (no kidding here), and oh yeah. She’s a bleeder. 

The blood thinners working to remove her blood clot make her very vulnerable to bleeding for the most ridiculous of reasons. The other night she woke me up with “I think we might have a problem… I feel something wet.” Rushing to put on my contacts, I turned the lights on to find my mother’s right side drenched in blood. Her skin is so thin, and so slow to heal that the tiny puncture left from a syringe was the only opening needed. After the nurses stopped the flow and changed her gown and sheets I was reassured by my mom. “It happens from time to time when my blood’s thin. It’s not a big deal sweetie, go back to bed.” So I did.

Nancy Asbell has just moved out of the ICU and she’s ready to share her story of healing via Youtube and a little video camera. We’ll make it a series! Maybe I’ll also do a blog post about the plants of the Mayo campus while I’m here too. Anyways, I thank you all for your prayers and positive thoughts for a speedy recovery. Your kindness blows my mind!



  1. I continue to pray and also my prayer group : )
    I love the smile 000000 virtual hugs
    love u guys

  2. Nancy Asbell, you are perfection in a lady-suit. Mwah!

  3. I am so glad that she is doing better Steve! I am still hoping and praying that things keep going well. And I think your wife will forgive you!

  4. So glad to hear that your mom is on the road to recovery. May her healing be swift and sure.


  5. Sure hope your Mom keeps doing well. I think it's sometimes harder to watch a loved one battling ill health than to be the one doing the battling. I'll keep you and your family in prayer.

  6. It's a gut wrenching journey for both of you and a very brave one it has turned out to be. I took care of my mom for almost 20 years and she continued to pull through impossible situations. Sending lots of hope your way.

  7. I'm sorry to hear about your mom but also glad to know that she is getting better. I wish her a speedy recovery.

  8. I wish your mother a speedy recover!

  9. Thank you all for your incredibly sweet sentiments! Thanks to your prayers and wishes my mom is set to leave the hospital tomorrow for a rehabilitation center. That means she's one step closer to going home to her garden!


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