I can't remember exactly but I think 2003 sounds right. Gertie and I were both at the funeral. The deceased, decked out in all her finery, looked angelic and at peace. No longer would the cancer ravage her body. No more would the pain wrack and gnaw at her fragile frame. The family, troubled by the bittersweet relief of no longer seeing their loved one suffer, sobbed silently as the kindly visitors did their best to console and assure them of what a difference she made in their lives. Then there were the flowers. The sensational pungent aroma filled the fellowship hall of our newly renovated church. Fragrant flowers and polished green plants adorned the walls, the temporary tables, the beautiful cherry coffin, the hallway... Sympathetic voices, unsure of what to say, commented on the fine floral offerings and many agreed how much their loved one adored her garden and relished her flowers.
'Twas then that Gertie and I agreed how sad it was that this lovely lady was not able to enjoy her floral gifts. Oh yes, this godly woman who loved her sweet Jesus, surely was looking down on those who took time to help celebrate her life. But we thought it a shame that the flowers came too late. Call it silly, but Gertie and I made a pact. We decided that we should always remember this day; this funeral; the gorgeous bouquets and luscious greenery. And then we would think of others and find everyday opportunities to send flowers.
A week later, I couldn't help myself. I popped into the local florist and bought a dozen carnations. I dropped them off at Gertie's house - when she wasn't home. She suspected I was the culprit - my wink was likely a dead giveaway but I wasn't 'fessing up. It was the beginning. I am not sure how Gertie followed through, but I know I sought opportunities to drop off flowers - anonomously or otherwise. God's incredible handiwork had to be adored and appreciated. Flowers did not have to be saved for funerals. Gertie and I only see each other once in a while - usually at church, but I always remembered that life lesson we shared. And I know she does, too. Granted my flower giving trailed off somewhat, but I sometimes will still drop off flowers to someone.
Today I received a solitary rose from my daughter, my grandson, and my granddaughter. Little three year old Jocelyn grinning like she and her sweet brother had a secret, pushed the beautifully packaged, long-stemmed rose into my hand and my darling grandbabies told me the flower was for me. When I asked why, my daughter uttered those very special words, "Just because..."
As I sit here this evening gazing at the gorgeous ruby red rose, I am thinking of Gertie. Now I am thinking about all those flower arrangements that appeared every so often on my doorstep throughout 2008 - the year that I bungled and battled through my own cancer journey. I hadn't forgotten. But for some reason I did not make the connection. Now I am. Gertie...
Gertie was the one who arranged for the local florist to make the drop-offs. She was responsible for the tears that fell as I loved and sniffed the lovely arrangements that seemed to arrive just at the right moment. How very sweet of Gertie it was to stroke my soul and remember our conversation. How very blessed I am. God surely knew the reactions He would get when He dipped His heavenly paintbrush and created such astounding beauty for us to behold...just because...
Isaiah 35:1 The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.