It was 5:35 pm on the Saturday night, just before Mother’s day. Being a mother, it was especially important to me that every local mom get a loving note and flowers from our store. As usual, the lines of young adults and high school children at our cash register had been unending since early this morning. This was despite the fact that today had been an unusually hot day for May. We had misted the flowers and watered the plants twice today, but by this evening many were drooping and looking as tired as we were. It was probably the busiest day before Mother’s Day, that we had ever had at the the Garden Center. I had one thing on my mind, a quick ride home to a gin and tonic, my half read novel and sharing the couch with my dog, Mitzy. Planning this quick departure to unknot my stomach, I had let my glassy eyed staff leave 10 minutes ago. I had just reached for the light switch, when I heard frantic pounding on my front glass door. Walking to the frosted glass door, I could see the image of a teenage boy’s hand and nose pressed to the door trying to see in. I really did not want to open the door but something inside made me do it.
I opened the door just enough to let him speak but also let him know we were closed. I was tried of listening to people tell me how the ribbons or bows were not the colors they had ordered…until I showed them the sample they had left and the ones we had used which matched flawlessly. I did not want to hear even one more story.
The young man was about 16 years old, with big brown puppy dog eyes and a forlorn expression. He said, “I need to get some flowers for my mom and grandma! Can you please help me?”
It had been a long day, so my patience was more than at end. I looked him right in the eyes and vented much of my tension from the day loudly saying, “Our store is closed. You waited till the end of the day to consider buying some flowers for the mother and grandmother who have spent their lives raising you! This was the best you could do? Run out at the end of the day to find something that might be left over as your afterthought to all they have given you! How dare you treat them with such disregard! Some day they will be gone and you will not have an opportunity to thank them for all they have sacrificed for you. Come in here now and I will find something for you! He was now a bit bent over by the heat of my attack and his big eyes seemed much smaller. However he followed instructions as I flipped on the front room lights. I said, “Young man, how much money do you have to spend? He reached in his pocket and came up with some bills and change and dropped every last cent he had on the counter, meekly arranging them in order to try and mollify my furor. I went behind the counter and grabbed a few bunches of prearranged flowers and wrapped them in some pretty green floral paper. I handed him two cards and a pen as I wrote a receipt and gave him a few coins change. He was quite happy to look away from my stern expression and fill out the cards. He was gone a few moments later.
Time flies and a year had past. It was 9:00 am the day just before Mother’s day. I opened the front door and my staff was ready to greet the crowds that had already started to fill our parking lot. As I walked behind the counter to get some bags, I felt a strong tap on my arm. I looked over to see a young man with big brown puppy dog eyes looking at me. He smiled and said, “Do you remember me?”
I said, “I am sorry but I cannot say that I do.” He said, “Last year you helped me understand how important my parents are to me, when you let me to get some flowers for them just after you closed. This year I wanted to be the first in line, so I could get them something really special. Thank you for having cared enough to stay late last year and help me!
The story is fictional but the experience true as shared by a patient who was a florist near my office for many years. Thanks Rosemary!