Phedre Fitton had the last laugh after losing her five-year battle with cancer in 2013.
Shortly before she died, the 69-year-old cheekily asked her husband, Nigel Fitton, to keep watering the plants in the bathroom of their South Africa home.
He faithfully did so for several years until his recent move into a retirement home, when it was pointed out to him that the plants he’d been caring for were, in fact, made of plastic.
Antonia Nicol, a firefighter from London, shared details of her late mother’s amusing prank on Twitter Tuesday.
Before my mum passed away, she gave my dad strict instructions to water the plants in the bathroom. He's been religiously watering them & keeping them alive. They look so amazing he decided to take them to his new home, only to discover they are plastic! Can hear my mum chuckling pic.twitter.com/N87giD5zKT— Antonia Nicol (@Flaminhaystack) January 16, 2018
“It was only when we flew over to help him move we all realized the plants were plastic,” Nicol told HuffPost on Thursday. “He said, ‘I wondered why they still looked so good.’”
“We really laughed about it and it was lovely to think that my mum was still there with us,” she added.
“It would have tickled her so much to know that he’s actually done it,” she said.
Nigel had been “overcome with grief” after losing Phedre, whom he first met when they were both just 16 years old. Watering the plants “gave him something to do,” Nicol said. Her father “thought the toilet had a leak due to the puddles on the floor.”
Nicol, who used a stock photograph for her initial tweet, later shared a snap of her father re-enacting the watering of his plastic ferns.
Both of Nicol’s posts have now gone viral.
“When I tweeted it, I thought about 10 people would look at it,” she said. Nicol was “staggered” at the amount of interest her story had generated.
“It’s also inspired people to open about the loss of their own loved ones,” she told HuffPost. “In times of awful news, it’s been really lovely to talk about something really sweet.”
A sampling of the heartwarming responses are below:
Sorry to hear of your loss. I lost my lovely mum last year, she was 85. But she would've loved that joke; my mum like yours had a wicked sense of humour.— Lawrie80sBoy (@The80sBoy) January 17, 2018
Fantastic. Your mum sounds hilarious— Suzanne (@librasuzanne) January 16, 2018
Aw, thank you for the late night chuckle, and caring heartfelt tingle. I gather your Mother and Father were made for each other in the stars. What a brilliant sense of humor, too.— Christopher Costa (@CarePlanMedia) January 17, 2018
Now, where can I order a plant like that from across the pond that looks so real! ;)
Your mum sounds like a scream! Sorry for your loss but happy you had such a wonderful parent.— Kit Caless (@KitCaless) January 16, 2018
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.