Mums is the Word
Every year, just before Memorial Day, a gentleman calls my shop and orders flowers to be placed on a grave in a neighboring town. He's been calling since before I owned the flower shop. The first year he called during our tenure, he assured us that the previous owner had delivered this for him, and so we wanted to oblige.
I called the previous owner to get directions to the grave-site, but she wasn't home. I went to the cemetery figuring it was such a small town cemetery, surely I would find the grave quickly and get back to the shop on this busy weekend. There were hundreds(!) of grave markers. I ended up canvassing the entire place from one end to the other, grave by grave until I found him.
The trouble is, I can't go to the cemetery without imagining the stories of each grave that I pass. I stop and read the lovingly chosen versus of scripture or inspirations carved into the stone. I look at the handpicked and carefully placed flowers and imagine who placed them.
This year, I finally let my curiosity win. The same gentleman called to order the flowers, always red, white and blue and I decided to ask him how he knew the deceased, because he said the deceased's mother would always call to tell him how much she enjoyed the flowers, indicating by the way he said it, that he wasn't a relative. After the pause he said, "We were...We flew helicopters together in Vietnam." He didn't really know the deceased, they weren't really friends, I don't think they knew each other long enough to be what one would call friends. They were brothers in arms. One had fallen and the other had remembered and still honored his brother every year on Memorial Day.
I consider it my honor to place these flowers every year. I look at the portrait of the fresh-faced, handsome young man, his eyes full of hope and pride. And I can't help but cry every year for this boy who would be my father's age today. I never knew him, but I look forward to seeing him every year. I thank him and his parents and his family for their sacrifice and service. I thank every veteran and their loved ones on this commemoration for my life and everything it entails. Thank you.
Annie is the owner of Annie's Main Street Floral and the author of "The Final Arrangement," part of the flower shop mystery series. Annie is Immediate Past -President of the Utah Professional Florist Association, a native of Layton Utah, and alumna of Layton High School.