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flowers for the living...

Posted by Suzanne D. on 2/11/04 at 10:31 (144089)

I just have to take a minute to tell you all about something that happened this morning at school. One of my first graders, all beaming from ear to ear, brought a flower arrangement for me! And it is a faded arrangement of red roses and a torn ribbon that obviously once decorated a grave.

His mother called me last night to explain. He found it in his grandparents' yard, where it must have blown from a nearby cemetery. She said her son found it and was so thrilled - just in time to give me for Valentine's Day! She said she tried to explain, but he cried and said he knew I would just love it. So she let him bring it to me but wanted to explain first on the phone.

All the children are so impressed with it and think it is beautiful. I have placed it in the window sill, surrounded by my 'keepsakes' - gifts from students in the past like little apples, teacher mugs, etc. They said it just 'matches'.

When you think about it, those kind of flower arrangements are never seen by the person for whom they are bought, so I guess I am lucky to get them now!

I just had to tell you...
Suzanne :)

Re: flowers for the living...

Lari S on 2/11/04 at 12:12 (144103)

You remind me of my sister-in-law who retired last year after teaching at the elementary school for 30 years. She always saw the beauty of a child's joy in what others may have consider worthless.

My neighbor just died unexpectedly of an aneurism. He was only 57 years old. His wife asked that rather than flowers for the memorial, that those wishing to do so give a plant or tree to their local school. He was very active with all his son's activities while he was in school, Boys Scouts, 4-H, FFA, etc., and was always gardening. Our local school is K-8 and only has 100 students and no lunch room. Some of the neighbors got together and we are putting in a nice area where the kids can sit on benches to eat under trees during nice weather.
Lari

Re: flowers for the living...

Suzanne D. on 2/11/04 at 17:11 (144118)

Thanks, Lari! Is your sister-in-law enjoying her retirement?

How nice that you are getting benches for the school in honor of your neighbor. And your description of your school makes me homesick for our old school of not quite 200 students. We consolidated with another school about the size of yours, and with redistricting as well, we have well over 500 students in our new building which houses preschool through 5th grade. Of course a lot depends on attitude, and I try hard to be positive about the new school, but I do miss the old one. There are things we lost which will never be the same.

Suzanne :)

Re: flowers for the living...

Necee on 2/12/04 at 02:06 (144148)

What a wonderful story Suzanne!
That lovely gesture from your student was something you will remember for the rest of your life, and I have a hunch he will remember you as he grows up, as being a loving, and caring teacher who made him feel special.

Necee

Re: flowers for the living...

Kathy G on 2/12/04 at 09:09 (144157)

Don't you just love the innocence of young children? He didn't care whether it had been on a grave. He wanted it for his teacher! How cute! And I love your caption because flowers are for the living.

I never send flowers when someone dies. I always contribute to a charity I think would the person would approve of if they haven't chosen one. When my daughter-in-law's grandfather died recently, there was no charity chosen so I gave a contribution to his church where he had been very active.

I'm too practical but it just kills me to see flowers, which will die in hours, mounded on a grave. Sometimes families donate them to hospitals but let's face it, they always look they came from a funeral. When my aunt died, one of my mother's friends sent a cheerful spring bouquet to my mother's home to brighten her days. I thought that was a lovely gesture.

Suzanne, I can imagine how much you dislike a large school. What works out financially for the county or state isn't always what's best for the teachers and students.

Re: flowers for the living...

Carole C in NOLA on 2/12/04 at 10:44 (144174)

I have always thought that flowers on a grave were for the relatives and friends of the deceased. That way, when they visit the grave and see all the flowers, they don't feel so alone in their grief.

So to me it makes a lot of sense that your mother's friend sent a bouquet to her home! It shows that she cares.

I love flowers.

When I was in junior high, a mortician's daughter was in my science class. She brought lilies for us to dissect, and the dissection was very interesting (though it seemed a little creepy to me at the time - - I kept wondering where the flowers had been).

Carole C

Re: flowers for the living...

Suzanne D. on 2/12/04 at 10:53 (144178)

Thank you, Necee. The whole situation made me realize once again about true gifts coming from the heart. It was a true gift which I really appreciated.

Suzanne :)

Re: flowers for the living...

Suzanne D. on 2/12/04 at 11:51 (144185)

I love flowers, too, Carole. And, yes, that was a very nice gesture of the friend to send flowers to your mother's home, Kathy.

My sister is married to a mortician. That seemed an 'odd' occupation when I first got to know him, but now I have the greatest respect for him and his work. He tries so hard and goes the extra mile to try to make people feel better. Once, a young child died, and the parents, of course, were devastated. They said they couldn't bring themselves to leave the funeral home that night after visitation. So my brother-in-law brought quilts and pillows and let them stay all night there.

Suzanne :)

Re: flowers for the living...

Kathy G on 2/12/04 at 15:37 (144198)

A mortician, or undertaker, as we call them around here, performs unbelievable service. And there are definite differences. The people at the funeral home that took care of my mother's arrangements were about ten times nicer than the people who took care of my dad's. It can make a huge difference.

It's one of those careers that people joke about but when the time comes, they are very grateful for people who are willing to make this their life's work.

Re: flowers for the living...

Dorothy on 2/12/04 at 23:57 (144222)

Ever read Thomas Lynch's books? - first one was called The Undertaking, if I recall correctly. He is a member of a family in Michigan that does undertaking, but he is also a poet and writer. Lovely writing and insightful observations from the eye of a poetic undertaker.

Re: flowers for the living...

Dorothy on 2/13/04 at 00:23 (144228)

That's a very tender story and a kind person.

Re: flowers for the living...

Dorothy on 2/13/04 at 00:52 (144233)

This reminds me of an incident from my own childhood when I was maybe 6 or 7. We didn't have a lot materially. We lived near a Baptist church that was having a Mother-Daughter banquet in the spring. I watched the dressed-up mothers and dressed-up daughters go into the church and then leave after the banquet from my perch on the back porch. Sometime the next day or so the two rusty metal open barrels next to the church building were full of gigantic gladiolas! I arranged a method to climb up high enough to pull them out, fixed them all up into a huge bouquet (bigger than I was!) and proudly took them home and handed them to my mother. I do not remember anything that happened after that, but I know I was beaming with expectant happiness and I remember that she smiled a big smile.

Re: flowers for the living...

wendyn on 2/13/04 at 23:32 (144296)

Suzanne, that's a very nice story - and very true. My husband's best friend died about 5 years ago from cancer. We want to do something to remember him - so every year on his birthday, we send his parents flowers. We picked his birthday rather than the day he died (we prefer not to dwell on the day he died). Also, I think his parents prefer the flowers more than someone who is no longer here. His parents have been very grateful; I think it's good for them to know that he hasn't been forgotten, and that we know that his birthday is still a tough time for them.

Re: flowers for the living...

Kathy G on 2/14/04 at 10:06 (144305)

That's a nice story, Wendy and I can imagine how much his parents appreciate the flowers. I'm so glad you chose his birthday. My father always kept track of people's birthdays on his calendar, even if they had died. He said that when he died, he didn't want everyone to think of him on his death day, just on his birthday so that's what our family does! Last year, my son got married on my dad's birthday so now we have two reasons to remember that day!

Re: flowers for the living...

Suzanne D. on 2/14/04 at 10:10 (144306)

What a special memory, Dorothy! I can just picture that. Thanks for telling us the story.

Suzanne :)

Re: flowers for the living...

Suzanne D. on 2/14/04 at 10:12 (144307)

Wendy and Kathy, those are good reminders to think of someone on their birthday. How much more joy is associated with that day!

Ironically, my mother, and her mother also, were both buried on their birthdays. So when May 14th and December 28th roll around, there are lots of memories on those days.

Suzanne :)