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Birthday Blossoms

I carried a bouquet of flowers to Mom’s hospital room. When, suddenly, I changed direction. 

The gladioli in my garden were in full bloom. On my way to visit my mother in the retirement home, I cut three tall stalks and wrapped them in a damp paper towel and waxed paper. Purple and lush, the flowers would make a beautiful bouquet for her room.

When I reached the home I passed through the lobby and walked toward Mother’s room in the G wing. Suddenly I stopped and turned around and headed down another hall to the nursing unit.

I had no idea why I had changed direction, and I cannot tell you why at the nurses’ station I asked to be directed to Mrs. Farmer’s room. I only knew Mrs. Farmer as the elderly lady who sat ramrod straight in front of me at church on Sunday mornings, wearing brightly colored hats on her snowy white hair. I hadn’t seen her for several months, and didn’t remember hearing that she was ill.

The door to Mrs. Farmer’s room was open. She was lying in bed, her face toward the window, her eyes closed. Her thin, bony arms lay outstretched on the white coverlet.

Mrs. Farmer opened her eyes and turned, not in the least surprised. “Oh, thank you for remembering my birthday,” she exclaimed. Then gazing at the gladioli bouquet, she added, “That’s all I asked for.”

I put the flowers in a vase on her bedside table and quietly left. I walked down the hall with a mixed feeling of gratitude and awe.

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