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Buds and Blossoms Bloom in the Motherhouse Infirmary

Posted on April 1, 2019, by Loretto Community

Story by Sue Rogers, photos by Mary Peter Bruce and Peg Jacobs

Mary Peter Bruce

Buds and blossoms abound on the third floor of the Motherhouse Infirmary. North and south sun make the windows ideal for orchids. They have been in bloom since December, and their glory will last until August.

Sharon Thompson of the Infirmary housekeeping staff is noted for having the green thumb of the third floor. Sharon gave Angelus Caron an orchid to mark her 100th birthday. Since then Sharon’s gift of orchids has delighted sister after sister. She says orchids have a way of coming back to her whenever a sister with an orchid dies. Angelus’s orchid now blooms happily under the watchful eye of Kathleen Vonderhaar. Kathleen’s orchid collection includes beautiful specimens that were gifts, one a year, from Rosie Casey.

The orchids are happily passed from one sister to another and one floor of the Infirmary to another. The windows of the third-floor lounge are lined with orchids. A Christmas cactus that had belonged to Betty Obal thinks it’s an orchid and blooms along with them. Dolores Kelledy hosts a blooming beauty that Sharon had given to Cecily Jones. When Theresa Coyle moved from the third floor, Mary Ken Lewis adopted her orchid.

Mary Peter Bruce received her orchid from Sharon several years ago and reports that it faithfully blooms from December through August and has gotten a new stem annually. Theresa Louise Wiseman initially told Sharon she would “try” an orchid. Now she beams as visitors admire her thriving friend. Her orchid, like many on the third floor, loves the filtered light coming in the bathroom window. The most recent recipient of an orchid is Sylvia Sedillo.

Kathleen Vonderhaar

Last winter Kay Lane and Kathleen Tighe gave an orchid with tiny white blossoms to Pearl McGivney to brighten her stay in the convent. As she was getting ready to leave, she passed the orchid on to me as I was recuperating on the third floor. Sharon took the tiny plant under her wing and repotted it when the blossoms fell. It bloomed in the north window of the second-floor apartment this December with 20 blooms.

Sharon claims that orchids are easy to grow if the light is right. The third floor is the perfect environment. Most die, according to Sharon, because they are overwatered.

Sharon encourages sisters on the third floor to let her water their plants to save them from such a fate. She checks on each orchid as it grows, keeping it in a soil blend made for orchids.

Look for the orchids as you visit the Infirmary. Each has a tale to tell.


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