Sharon Randall: Keeping things clear

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2022

   This may seem strange, but I need to tell somebody, and I’m trusting you to understand.


   Here goes. I recently adopted a new family _ seven individuals with distinct personalities, not to mention a few peculiarities.


   We’re having fun getting to know one another. Or at least, I am. If they have any complaints, they’ve not said a word.

   Why did I adopt a new family? Let me be clear. My decision to adopt them had nothing to do with my love for the real family my husband and I share _ a big blended bunch of great people, including five wonderful grown children, their lovely others and nine of the finest grandkids the world has ever seen.

   I adore my real family and love  to spend time with them. Always have. Always will. Especially if I don’t have to cook.

   But two years ago, when the pandemic brought gatherings of family and friends (and even strangers in the check-out line) to a screeching halt, I began to feel a need _ I’ll just say this _ for a little more life in my life.

   Have you felt that need, too?

   Again, don’t get me wrong. My husband is a great companion. We’ve made the best of our time in semi-solitary confinement.

   We have lots in common. We both like to eat. And sleep. And talk. Or not talk. We take turns cooking and cleaning. We use a tag team system to empty the dishwasher. He hands me the dishes, I put them away. He takes the trash cans down to the street. I do the laundry. We both fold it. He plays a video game killing demons. I play FreeCell creating order in chaos. (I like to create order any way I can.)

   We watch TV together: Giants’ baseball, Warriors’ basketball and “Station 19,” a show in which my actor son plays a really good-looking fire captain.

   And if the weather is nice, as it often is, we sit outside in the evening watching the sun go down, the moon come up, the stars come out and the lights come on around the valley.

   Life is good for us. I hope it is for you, too. But as I explained, the disconnect of the pandemic somehow made me welcome a new family into our home.

   They hang out in our living room. I think they’re happy. I’m trying hard not to kill them.

   Allow me to introduce to you my new family of plants. They sit stacked, one above the other, on several shelves in the corner between two sunny windows.

   I’m clueless about botanical names, so I gave them common names that seem to suit them.

   Gloria (short for glorious) is a gorgeous white orchid who sits on the top shelf like a queen.

   Next is Jessica, with frilly green leaves speckled in pink. She’s named for my daughter-in-law, who gave her to me.

   On the third shelf is Celine, a desert princess with tiny white flowers. She reminds me of our years in Las Vegas of all Places.

   At the bottom, shoulder to shoulder, like leafy green guards are four big plants of various varieties. I call them “The Boys.”

   And interspersed on the shelves are three remarkably real-looking battery operated candles controlled by the click of a remote. A gift from my friend Linda, they light up those plants (and my heart) like Christmas.

   I wish you could see them.

   I’ve never been a plant person. Over the years, I had my share of violets and such, but they never lasted long. I was always so busy taking care of the people in my life I kept forgetting that plants are living things, too.

   They need love and care, or at least, a little water. I hope to do better with Gloria, Jessica, Celine and The Boys.

   Once, as a child helping my grandmother tend her garden, I asked her why she did it. Her family was grown. She could buy produce at the market. Why did she keep pulling those weeds?

   She laughed and gave me a look. “Keeping things alive,” she said, “keeps me alive, too.”

   I didn’t understand it then. But it’s starting to make sense.


Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or