August 23, 2016

Love in Bloom

I was nine when my father first sent me flowers. I had been taking tapdancing lessons for six months, and the school was giving its yearly recital. As an excited member of the beginners' chorus line, I was aware of my lowly status event mangement.

So it was a surprise to have my name called out at the end of the show along with the lead dancers and to find my arms full of long-stemmed red roses. I can still feel myself standing on that stage, blushing furiously and gazing over the footlights to see my father's grin as he applauded loudly.

Those roses were the first in a series of large bouquets that accompanied all the milestones in my life. They brought a sense of embarrassment. I enjoyed them, but was flustered by the extravagance.

Not my father. He did everything in a big way. If you sent him to the bakery for a cake, he came back with three. Once, when Mother told him I needed a new party dress, he brought home a dozen.

His behavior often left us without funds for other more important things. After the dress incident, there was no money for the winter coat I really needed--or the new ice skates I wanted school finder.

Sometimes I would be angry with him, but not for long. Inevitably he would buy me something to make up with me. The gift was so apparently an offering of love he could not verbalize that I would throw my arms around him and kiss him--an act that undoubtedly perpetuated his behavior.

Then came my 16th birthday. It was not a happy occasion. I was fat and had no boyfriend. And my well-meaning parents furthered my misery by giving me a party. As I entered the dining room, there on the table next to my cake was a huge bouquet of flowers, bigger than any before.

I wanted to hide. Now everyone would think my father had sent flowers because I had no boyfriend to do it. Sweet 16, and I felt like crying. I probably would have, but my best friend, Phyllis, whispered, "Boy, you're lucky to have a father like that Online Reputation Management.

As the years passed, other occasions--birthdays, recitals, awards, graduations--were marked with Dad's flowers. My emotions continued to seesaw between pleasure and embarrassment.

When I graduated from college, though, my days of ambivalence were over. I was embarking on a new career and was engaged to be married. Dad's flowers symbolized his pride, and my triumph. They evoked only great pleasure.

Now there were bright-orange mums for Thanksgiving and a huge pink poinsettia at Christmas. White lilies at Easter, and velvety red roses for birthdays. Seasonal flowers in mixed bouquets celebrated the births of my children and the move to our first house.

As my fortunes grew, my father's waned, but his gifts of flowers continued until he died of a heart attack a few months before his 70th birthday. Without embarrassment, I covered his coffin with the largest, reddest roses I could find.

Often in the dozen years since, I felt an urge to go out and buy a big bouquet to fill the living room, but I never did. Often in the dozen years since, I felt an urge to go out and buy a big bouquet to fill the living room, but I never did. I knew it would not be the same.

Then one birthday, the doorbell rang. I was feeling blue because I was alone. My husband was playing golf, and my two daughters were away. My 13-year-old son, Matt, had run out earlier with a "see you later," never mentioning my birthday. So I was surprised to see his large frame at the door. "Forgot my key," he said, shrugging. "Forgot your birthday too. Well, I hope you like flowers, Mum." He pulled a bunch of daisies from behind his back.

"Oh, Matt," I cried, hugging him hard. "I love flowers!"

Posted by: yearsgoneby at 06:12 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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