Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Funerals and Flowers

Long time, no post, yet again. The past month and a half has been full of busy times and some unfortunate events. Now that things have calmed down, at least for now, I hope to have some time to catch up on my blog.

The week after Thanksgiving was a sad one with two funerals. Being a gardener, I can’t help but take notice of the flowers at funerals. As I stood in line at the one visitation/viewing I thought, “Why do funeral flowers always look like funeral flowers?” It seems like there are always certain kinds of flowers in funeral arrangements – carnations, lilies, and roses seem to be the most common. As I stood there looking at them, I got to thinking about all of the events in our lives where we see flowers. They are used to commemorate the happiest...and the saddest...moments in our lives. Happy times such as weddings, funerals, christenings, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, corsages for proms, as well as sadder times, like to show care and concern to those who are ill at home or in the hospital, or to put on a grave. Why are flowers consistently present at these significant times in our lives? I think it is because no matter what is happening, flowers bring happiness and hope.

Flowers can hold special meaning. It could be that a certain flower reminds you of a certain person. When I see daisies or lily-of-the valley, I can’t help but think of my mom because those are two of her favorite flowers. She had lily-of-the-valley in her wedding bouquet. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac website, lily-of-the-valley means sweetness. How appropriate for my mom, who is by far one of the sweetest people I know. :o) It makes sense that we would want our favorite flowers, or flowers that remind us of special people or places, there to help us mark the significant moments in our lives.

Sometimes flowers remind us of our childhood or specific times in our lives. When I see English Bluebells I am transported back in time to the glorious fields of bluebells that I saw while in England. Daffodils remind me of the abandoned farm and garden that was in the field behind the house where I grew up. There was an area with a small pond and bridge that would light up in yellow each spring. (That special place is where the name of my blog comes from.) On the other side of the bridge there was a wash of blue Scilla Siberica Spring Beauty. Maybe that’s why I love that color blue so much.

At both of the funerals I was at that week, someone had lost a father. I couldn’t help but think of my own dad that week, who died many, many years ago. My dad taught me how to plant my first seed, and while my passion for gardening was slow to germinate, it eventually blossomed into an addiction that I know will last the rest of my life. My dad spent most of the last year of his life at Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. At the time, I only lived a few blocks away. When I would go to visit him, I would stop at a local florist and pick out flowers for a bouquet. I always made sure they included his favorite flower, carnations. I personally never liked carnations because they are so over-used in arrangements, but I have to admit that they are very fragrant and last a long time. He particularly liked red carnations. One of the last memories I have of my dad is him scorning me for spending my money on flowers, but then when he thought I wasn’t looking, he buried his nose in the bouquet and took a big breath in. I will never forget that moment. He would sometimes comment on how my flowers always smelled the prettiest. I think it was the carnations that did it.

When my dad died,  I took a lily from the funeral flowers. I pressed it between the pages of a book. I still have that flower and still have my memories.

What would all of the significant moments in our lives be without flowers?

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