This may be the oldest Poinsettia you’ve ever seen. It’s 11 years old. Marty Karch was my manager for almost ten years. As his retirement neared, he bought a small countdown clock. Every day, in his office, it quietly ticked away the hours, days, and months to his retirement. The Christmas before he retired, he bought a small personal Poinsettia (the original container is on top of the water tank in the picture above). After New Year’s day, it began to die, as most poinsettias do. He knew that I was interested in hydroponics and asked me to make sure it lived until he retired. “Just keep it going until I retire.” I took it home and put it into my ebb and flow system, where it quickly recovered. When it reached 1 foot tall, I took pictures of it and showed him how his poinsettia was doing. He didn’t believe me when I told him that the little twig with one leaf he had given me was now a thriving bush. I had set the light cycle on my system so it was blooming when I took the picture. He accused me of buying a new plant to avoid hurting his feelings. After reassuring him many times that this was indeed his little plant, he finally believed me.
Marty retired and bought a luxury tug so he and his wife could sail away. Marty was an avid sailor, but it had become too much work as he got older, so he opted for a powerboat. The tug was a perfect boat for him, not too fast, heavy on the amenities, and oozing class from every porthole. He was a kind man who looked out for the people in his office. I stormed into his office once, angry about something unimportant. He challenged me about it, knowing that I was really angry about something else. I can’t remember what I was angry about, only the thunderclap of realizing it wasn’t him. The anger drained out of me, and I slumped into a chair in his office. Marty was diagnosed with Cancer a few months after he retired. He never got to sail away, but I keep his poinsettia going to remind me of the best manager I ever had. When I packed up the hydroponic system, I let most of the plants in it go, as well. I couldn’t let Marty’s poinsettia go, though. I bought an automatic dog waterer and created a modified wick system for it. It’s scraggly, a little moldy, and it has had a few close calls, but it’s still alive. I treasure that little plant, and the memory of the man who gave it to me.