The Heart of a Tulip

The Heart of a Tulip

“What, another one gone?” Henry said to himself as he looked at his tulip garden. It was late April in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains and the tulips were in full bloom. The vibrant colors of red, pink, and yellow tulips were so beautiful, Henry always had a smile on his face when working the tulip garden.

This was the fifth consecutive day that another one of his tulips was missing. The strange thing was that only one plant was taken each day from near one of the corners of the square shaped garden. In the past there had been problems with deer and rabbits eating the flowers but they would destroy several plants and they always left evidence such as petals and leaves scattered about. Henry installed a security fence around the garden to keep the animals out. The grandkids knew not to disturb any of the flowers unless they had permission. But these newly missing flowers looked as if they had been cut with shears close to the ground with no petals orleaves nearby. “Maybe it was one of Mary’s kids,” said Betty. Mary was the oldest child of Henry and Betty. She stopped by a couple times a week after picking her children up from school. “But Mary and her kids were not here yesterday or the day before,” Henry replied.

Henry and his wife Betty have been married for over forty years and still lived in the old farmhouse with the gray asphalt siding. Together they had raised nine children and had many grandchildren who visited often. There was a large yard that surrounded the house on three sides with the front of the house facing the highway. Plenty of room for the grandkids to play. The tulip garden was next to the highway and not far from the house.

Henry worked very hard at keeping the house and yard looking nice, especially the tulip garden. First thing in the morning Henry was out there tending his tulips. He loved it when people passing by slowed down to look at his beautiful garden. Some would stop and ask to see his flowers up close.

Betty and Henry have lived their entire life here and they knew everyone in the area. All of their neighbors have respect for each others homes and would never do anything such as stealing flowers. But there were some new neighbors who had just moved into the old Schmader farm. “I hope they’re not the hooligans that are taking my flowers,” Henry said to himself.

To supplement his income, Henry made horseradish which he sold and had an antique bottle shop set up in the barn. Most of the people who stopped in were repeat customers or people he knew. Henry doubted any of these folk would take any of my tulips without asking. The highway that goes by the house is a main route for visiting the state park so maybe some vacationers were stealing his flowers.

Every day except Saturday and Sunday there was a new flower missing. Henry could not understand why anyone would steal his flowers one at a time and why only Monday through Friday. And why only from the corner area of the garden? This went on for three weeks then suddenly stopped. Henry was pleased and perplexed at the same time.

About a week after the tulip thefts had ceased, Henry noticed as he approached the gate to the security fence that there was something attached to the gate with pink yarn. It was an envelope with “DEAR SIR” written on the front. Henry put on his reading glasses and opened the envelope:


I am so very sorry for taking your flowers. My dad became very sick and was in the hospital. Before he became ill he grew a beautiful garden of tulips just like you. So every morning while waiting for the school bus, I would sneak down to your garden and snip one tulip from a corner section, hoping you wouldn’t notice it missing. I would visit my dad in the hospital after school and give him the tulip. This would always make him smile which gave me hope that he would be coming home soon. Well, daddy didn’t make it home. He went to heaven instead. I feel very bad for taking your flowers without permission and would be willing to pay for them by doing some chores for you. We just moved into the Schmader farm. You can find me there.

Sara Smith

Age 10

Henry just stood there, reading the letter a second time. He could feel his emotions well up inside of him. Then an idea popped into his head. Henry dug up two dozen of his tulips and loaded them into wooden flats and put the flats in the back of his old pickup truck. He then drove over to the Schmader farm and introduced himself to Sara’s mom and Sara. Henry talked with Sara’s mom and she agreed with his plan. Henry asked Sara if she could help him with a chore right now. After finding a suitable area in the yard, Henry showed Sara how to plant the first tulip and then let Sara plant the rest by herself. Sara now had her own tulip garden and she knew her dad will always be there with her.


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