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Transporting her mother's three hoyas, two Christmas cactuses and a large aloe vera was a favor that paid dividends.
Our road trip started with just the two of us—my husband, Phil, and me, driving from Ohio to Mexico and back again. But we’d picked up some rather colorful hitchhikers along the way, at my mother’s house in Oklahoma.
Mom was moving, and the movers she’d hired refused to transfer her houseplants because their truck wasn’t climate controlled. “I can fit the small ones in my car,” Mom told us. “Can you take the large potted plants home until you can get them to me?”
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Now three blooming hoyas, two Christmas cactuses and one enormous aloe vera blocked the back window of our sedan. They did fine in the heat of Texas and Mexico, but then we turned north toward home and headed into cold weather. Frost could damage, even kill them.
At midnight one evening, we pulled up to a motel in Blytheville, Arkansas, the temperature dipping into the teens. We’d have to haul the heavy plants inside with us.
“We’ll need a room for two, please,” I told the woman at the front desk, not mentioning our extra guests. She peered at her computer screen. “We have a couple of rooms left on the second floor over the restaurant,” she replied, “and one on ground level, way back across the parking lot.”
“Is there an elevator?” I asked. She shook her head. “Ground level,” I said. No way Phil and I were lugging those plants up a flight of stairs.
It was still a hassle to get the plants inside. After Phil wrestled the last Christmas cactus through the doorway, we fell into bed, exhausted.
At 2:00 A.M., an alarm woke us, followed by pounding on nearby doors. We heard sirens. Then voices. “Police! Get out, the motel’s on fire!”
The fire was in the other wing, so we had enough time to gather our things and haul Mom’s plants back out into the chilly night. We got them into the car and then climbed in ourselves, watching as flames engulfed the motel restaurant...and the rooms above it. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
Today, whenever Mom’s Christmas cactuses bloom, we remember how hard we worked to save them, and how they ended up saving us.
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