January 6th, 2019

Keeping the Hope of Recovery Alive: A Posthumous Gift from Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson Plant

During his lifetime, Bill Wilson inspired many people to recover from addiction by addressing their feeling of hopelessness, which can become a profound self-fulfilling prophecy. I recently found out about yet another way in which he has indirectly done this after his death. I previously wrote about having met Lincoln Norton, the person who taught Transcendental Meditation to Bill Wilson in the last years of his life. Lincoln recently sent me a piece that his father wrote about another end-of-life story about Bill Wilson that I thought might be of interest to readers. Here is an abridged version:

Among other personal items a friend brought back from his hospital room was a very healthy Swedish Ivy plant that she had given him some time before and that he kept in his room. “Here, she said to me, why don’t you take care of Bill’s plant. I’m sure he’d want you to have it.” I’d always liked houseplants but this one was special. For one thing, it grew and grew so that I had to trim it quite a lot.

Bill Wilson – I threw away the clippings

At first, I threw away the clippings until I realized that new plants could be developed from these cuttings. I found that they would develop new roots, even without benefit of a rooting compound. Soon I had a bunch of small Swedish Ivy plants in small pots and the “mother plant” kept growing and growing none the worse for all those cuttings. I came to think of the “mother plant” as “Bill’s Plant” and the cuttings as it’s “Offspring.” I can’t remember now to whom I gave the first “offspring” to, but it certainly was someone in AA. I made sure that the metaphor was clear: “This represents the Spirit of Bill. Pass it on!” Isn’t that the story of AA itself?

When I told my colleagues at Kolmac about this story, one of them offered that she herself had received one of the cuttings 20 years ago. She sent me a photo of the now mature plant, which you can see at the top of this article.

If any reader has a story related to Bill Wilson and the cutting, please feel free to let me know at gkolodner@kolmac.com.

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