On May 1 a few years ago I decided to follow a Victorian tradition and create cones of flowers to hang on the doorknobs of the classrooms at the school where I taught. I bought white doilies and created cones that I filled with flowers. I bought flowers from the local supermarket and put a few flowers from each bouquet in the cones. I wrapped the flowers in wet paper towels and plastic wrap, tied pastel ribbons at the top to hang from the doorknobs, and came in to work early to put them on the doors of the offices on the main floor and the classrooms on the floor where I taught. The best part of this was listening to everyone try to guess who put the flowers there. They brightened up the hallways and brought spring into our lives. Flowers have a way of bringing joy to everyone, something to remember as Mother’s Day approaches.
When my sister and I were young, we spent summers walking through the fields near our home. The fields had once belonged to my grandfather, and we loved walking toward the lake where a huge field of wildflowers bloomed every year. Our favorites were the daisies. We plucked the petals reciting the words “He loves me, he loves me not” over and over until the last petal proclaimed we were loved by the boy we were interested in at the time.
When my daughters were older, I remember mentioning my love of daisies to them, telling them about my childhood walks through the fields, and wishing I could some day have a whole house filled with daisies. I loved the way those television living rooms always had a beautiful vase of flowers on a table somewhere. (I have to admit I am addicted to the soap opera “The Young and the Restless” where I can’t help notice how the flowers are changed daily.)
The day I came home from the hospital after my breast cancer surgery, my daughters had set up the couch in the living room with pillows and blankets, and there on the table next to the sofa was a huge round bowl of daisies–velvety-white petals surrounding golden-yellow centers. I estimated there were at least fifty daisies in the bowl. I felt a connection to my sister at that moment who was also fighting breast cancer, a recurrence for her, and I was comforted by the presence of the flowers.
I became obsessed with daisies, somehow believing that daisies would protect me and my sister during our recovery. When the daisies wilted and died, I went to the floral department of our local supermarket and bought more. As the winter progressed, the daisies became harder to find. One day when my daisies were in desperate need of replacement, I went to buy more only to discover there were none in the store. I searched and searched and then began to cry. As I headed for the door before anyone could see the hysterical woman I had become, the manager of the floral department approached me. When she asked if she could help me find something, I blurted out, “I need daisies and I don’t see any.” I fought to keep back the tears as she told me that daisies were hard to get in the winter. Then she told me to just wait there for a minute. She headed to the back of the store and returned a few minutes later holding a bouquet of white daisies she had pulled from floral arrangements kept in the cooler. She wrapped them in tissue paper and handed them to me, politely avoiding asking further questions. She gave me a lot more than daisies that day. She gave me hope.
I think a lot about the people in the south who have lost everything. I want to give them flowers, even though I know it’s an impossibility to do that for everyone. Still, flowers offer us hope in our moments of sadness and fear. May Day is over, but our need for comfort is not. I am so lucky to still have my mother in my life, so among the gifts I give her this year will be a bouquet of flowers, and somewhere in that bouquet will be a few white daisies offering to her love and hope for our future years together.