“Beware of missing chances: otherwise it may be altogether too late some day.”
“What is wrong with you? You killed it!” I looked at the blossom in my hands and felt baffled. Why was Grandma angry at me?
An hour earlier she had visited the tiny garden I was semi-nurturing, studying my efforts. To be honest, the “garden” was a circle of dirt and weeds around the telephone pole, but hey, it was mine.
“Gail,” she said, I’ve been gardening many years and have never seen such a pretty flower.” I looked at the blossom that had caught her attention, and smiled with a pride that rightly belonged to Mother Nature.
Grandma, wise woman that she was, partly lied, and partly encouraged. I was only about eight years old at the time and liked the notion of gardening more than the work. She knew a compliment would go a long way to motivate further efforts.
After Grandma had walked back to her house, I thought about how much she had enjoyed the blossom. The prettiest she had ever seen, I thought. I’ll give it to her! With a quick snip, and then a trip to the basement to find a mason jar, I carried my gift to Grandma.
When she lashed out instead of being happy, I felt confusion and sadness. To me, it didn’t matter that the flower would wither. All flowers did. And, even though I was young, growing up on a farm had exposed me to cycles. Birth, growth, and death. Why not enjoy the flower while it lasted? Why not gaze upon it in a mason jar instead of leaving it among the weeds?
I now know Grandma was one of those souls who felt nice things were, well, too nice to use. She had a drawer full of pretty hankies, nightgowns, and even a tiny vial of expensive perfume. “These are for special occasions only,” she would say.
Decades later, after her death, I cleaned out that drawer. The hankies had yellowed, the nightgowns were fragile, and the perfume was still full. Special occasions had never been special enough. The lovely things remained unused and had never given the pleasure intended.
Grandma’s harsh words, her what is wrong with you, comes back to me from time to time. Most often it’s when I, too, am saving something for…when?
It is then I remember the flower, the prettiest Grandma had ever seen, and how it withered in the absence of joy.