This is a story of an amaryllis, some gardeners, and a family friendship that has spanned three generations. It is a story that affirms much of what I believe to be true about gardeners: they are hopeful, they are generous, and they connect across generations.
More than fifty years ago, a young couple named Dick and Ann Smith bought their first home in a quiet, leafy neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. Dick was a former Stanford football player and a Korean War veteran. A journalist by trade, he found work at NBC Studios as a cameraman. Ann, a lab tech and East Coast transplant, stayed at home with Bill, their young son, who was soon joined by a string of siblings.
The neighbors across the street from the Smiths were an older couple, Bob and Lucille Ludlum; they welcomed the Smiths warmly. Bob and Lucille had a daughter, Joanne, a UCLA grad, who was married to a man named Ed Rossi. Ed and Joanne were the same age as Dick and Ann, and a fast and enduring friendship formed. The Rossi family lived in Reseda, but they and their three young sons were frequent visitors to the Ludlum’s home, conveniently located across from the Smith house, which eventually also had three boys, all near in age to the Rossi boys. The quiet, dead-end street erupted into a joyful jumble of children during those years. That is how my husband, Bill, met his lifelong best friend, Steve, and where the story of the amaryllis begins.
Lucille Ludlum was a gifted and dedicated gardener. One day, Lucille gave Ann Smith, my mother-in-law, an amaryllis cutting. It took off, and has flourished for years and years in Ann’s yard. […]