A Flower On My Windowsill
A Flower on my Windowsill
I heard the Lawn Boy start up in the back yard. Every door in the house was open including the tool house and the garage. It was ‘happy yard day’ for Jay, my energetic gregarious husband. Even the neighbors knew it. He whistled while he worked, talked loud and waved to every person in sight. This was Big Daddy, a papaw who had certainly earned his wide berth around this house. It was just a natural thing for the family to honor him, laugh at him, and serve him. He was provider, playful and charming.
Mowing in style
The garb was always the same. Laced up yard boots, long gray pants, long sleeve shirt, gloves and a golf hat with lines of dried sweat .
All this on a 6’2 frame, with pot belly. I knew without doubt that he would either rap on the window or ring the doorbell and ask for a glass of water or a tool from the garage.
Jay was large and in charge.
The yellow flower
On one of these days I was standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes. I heard the lawn mower go into idle mode and a few seconds later he was at the back door.
Bam! Bam! Bam! It startled me and I dropped a dish in the sink.
Again, Bam! Bam! Bam!
I was Irritated. I patted my wet hands on my shirt, and stomped to the back door, flung it open and yelled, “WHAT!!”
There he stood, hot and sweaty and covered with cut grass. He held out a gloved hand and in the palm was a tiny little yellow flower.
“Look at that,” he said. “You know that old weed we’ve been trying to kill? It bloomed. It was so cute, I hated to cut it. I wanted you to see it.”
He picked it up, smiled and inspected it and handed it to me.
I went back to the dishes and laid the small treasure on the windowsill, amused at the sweetness of this big old funny sweaty man ....
and the tenderness he felt for this little yellow flower.
Come to think of it, Jay always had an appreciation for flowers. I remember when we were dating at 17, he would ride the #7 Crosstown bus to my house and walk three blocks to my house. He kept a small red pocket knife on his key chain and would cut a single flower out of some lady’s flower bed and bring it to me. It never stopped, even in hard times. It didn’t have to be a special occasion. Often a trip to the grocery store, an arrangement or single flower would catch his eye, and he would bring it home. I never gushed over them. Maybe I took him for granted.
The year 2008 brought some devastating news. He was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney cancer. Right before my eyes I saw a strong, vibrant man slowly dwindle to a shadow. His eyes remained bright, his spirit, one of hope.
Although his body was betraying him, his love of life was never affected. Every day he sat in a lawn chair facing the driveway and waved to neighbors. I would take him a cup of coffee and make small talk of landscapes, family, and old friends.
Trip to Home Depot
Then one day , a thought struck me. I made a trip to Home Depot and rummaged through the garden department. It was full of blooming plants.
I found a rolling cart and filled it with perennials and bags of top soil and mulch. I went home and donned my garden clothes and shoveled at least 8 inches deep all down the driveway edge, adding top soil.
Jay was watching. He advised me on alternating colors, nodding his head yes. Adding pine bark mulch was the finishing touch. Then I stepped back to admire my work of art.
You did that for me?
I reached down and pinched off a small yellow bloom and took it to him. Pure delight was in his eyes as he guided my hand to his nose to gently smell it.
“You did that for me, didn’t you?” he said . And it dawned on me, all these years he had brought me flowers and this is the first time I had given them to him. Now I know the signifigance!
Flowers are symbols transending feeling. A devotion deeper than words.
Memories by Barbra Striesand
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