CRESTVIEW — Mama's in bloom just in time for Christmas, and that warms Betty Woodward's heart.


CRESTVIEW — Mama's in bloom just in time for Christmas, and that warms Betty Woodward's heart.



The pink Christmas cactus was her late mother's only potted plant and, when it blooms, Woodward thinks fond thoughts of her mom, Verna Louise Gillis Williams.



"It always sat on her side porch," Woodward said. "She'd always be waiting by the porch when we'd come visit, leaning against a pillar."



Woodward said other family members took cuttings from the cactus before she brought it home to Crestview from her mother's house near Red Level, Ala.



She named the plant "Mama" in memory of her mother.



When a cutting is inadvertently knocked off the plant, Woodward promptly puts it in water to root, and gives away the new plant. Mama's offspring are scattered far and wide, she said.



"I've taken care of Mama for 32 years," Woodward said. "She's a centerpiece when you walk in my door. She welcomes everyone when they visit."



Mama's buds began to open earlier this week.



"It bloomed its heart out," Woodward said. "I know it has 200-plus blooms on it. She's just laden with them."



Woodward carefully covers Mama during cold nights to prevent damage. The plant is too heavy to be moved inside.



"Everybody says, 'Look after Mama.' There's a lot of sentimental value," Woodward said.



She calls her Lakeside East home "a memory house of Christmas." Each piece in the home, which is aglow with Christmas décor, holds a dear memory.



That's the way it should be, Woodward said.



"I think people have a tendency to lose the closeness of family," she said. "I have stories about everything in this house."



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