The month of May always brings thoughts of flowers to my mind.
Spring has finally arrived here at Mama’s Empty Nest now that it’s May. The old saying “April showers bring May flowers” has yet to prove true though. April brought showers of rain and snow, but May flowers are just beginning to awaken.
Just the other day, we noticed blooms bursting forth on our bleeding heart plant. The lily of the valley stalks pushed their way up through the soil, but those white, delicate bell-like flowers with a lovely aroma have yet to bloom.
Flowers truly are gorgeous, aren’t they? Their colors and aromas tantalize our senses, bring smiles to our faces and joy to our hearts. For many, receiving flowers as a gift is most delightful.
And receiving flowers for the first time is always special.
Recently, our oldest granddaughter was the recipient of such a gift for the first time in her young life – a lovely wrist corsage for a special occasion. I snapped a photo of her, with such a look of joy on her little face, as she received those first flowers. I hope she remembers that moment for a long time to come.
Does anyone else remember the first time you received flowers? I’m not sure I do. I do recall, as a child, giving flowers when I picked little bouquets of wildflowers – sometimes just dandelions – and presented them to my mother. She would always smile and place them in a glass of water.
I suspect the first flowers I ever received were corsages at Easter and on Mother’s Day to wear to church. When I was a youngster, one wore a red or pink carnation pinned to your church dress if your mother was still living and a white one if your mother had passed away.
My father usually purchased those gifts of flowers for Mom, my sisters, and me. Mother’s Day also meant we gave flowers to Mom – sometimes a beautiful bouquet, other times flats of flowers to plant outside.
Two other May instances regarding flowers I received come to my mind, and both occurred when I was a junior high school student.
At the end of my ninth grade year, a dance was held where the girls wore a fancy dress (and by fancy, I mean a dress you’d wear to church but not school) and the boys wore suits and ties. Boys asked the girls to attend, and since I didn’t have a boyfriend, I didn’t expect to be asked.
One of my classmates, who happened to be the smartest boy in our class, was very shy. To my surprise, his friend asked me if I would go to the dance with shy guy. At first, I thought it was a joke, but the friend assured me shy guy was just too nervous and timid to do it himself.
After asking my parents if I could go, I accepted the invitation. Shy guy was from a different culture than I was and because his parents were what we would now days call old-school, they frowned upon him socializing. Getting an education was more important and certainly taking a girl to a dance meant disapproval.
Arrangements were made for me to meet shy guy at the school on the evening of the dance, which was perfectly acceptable for my parents as they provided my transportation to and from. (My dad was not keen on me going out with boys yet.)
What surprised me even more was when this boy met me on the school steps, he presented a beautiful corsage to me. He had saved up his money for not only the dance tickets but also the flowers and arranged for his friend to keep the corsage until dance time, apparently so he wouldn’t have to explain to his parents what they were for.
His shy demeanor continued at the dance and we didn’t talk much or even dance a lot. Mostly we sat at a table partaking of refreshments, and I’m ashamed to admit as a fickle teenage girl, I spent a good bit of time eyeing another boy I had a crush on. (That memory bothered me as an adult and I actually apologized to shy guy at a high school reunion many years later.)
Even though I considered my dance date just another classmate and had no romantic feelings for him, I kept the corsage of flowers he gave me for a very long time until it dried up and fell apart.
On another warm, spring day in May, my older sisters picked me up after school to take me home instead of my usual riding the school bus. The junior high school building was located just a few blocks from our hometown’s waterfront park along the river.
Driving home from town, we had to cross a bridge, but a red traffic signal before the bridge stopped us, so we sat alongside the park waiting for the light to turn green.
For one reason or another, I had had a crummy day. I don’t really recall why, but I do remember being down in the dumps, tired, probably just ready for school to end for the summer. I sat in my oldest sister’s vehicle in the front passenger seat with the window down, staring out at the park, no doubt with a forlorn look on my face.
Suddenly, a smiling young man (who I didn’t know) appeared at my window holding a small branch of fragrant blooms off the budding park trees, said, “These are for you,” and walked away. Despite being shocked and surprised, I had enough sense to take the offering and thank him.
I’ve never forgotten that gesture said with flowers. The young man probably was a college student from the university branch campus in our town and he obviously had been enjoying a walk in the park. How did he notice a young teenage girl who looked sad and despondent? I don’t know.
But he acted on an impulse when he gave me that gift of sweet-smelling blossoms. He changed my ordinary, humdrum, downtrodden day into a special occurrence I’ve never forgotten some 50-plus years later.
I’d like to think that the young man was a believer in God and that he listened as God whispered in his ear that a teenaged girl needed cheering up. Of course, I don’t know if that’s true. But I do know truth comes from God and His Word – the Bible – and those words last forever, unlike flowers.
Even though flowers eventually wither, die, and are forgotten, sometimes memories associated with those fragrant and beautiful “gifts” may also fade away. But one thing I know for certain, God’s Word certainly never does.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” ~ Isaiah 40:8