June 16, 2009
When I worked at a summer camp in high school and college, the only place nearby to go shopping was the Wal-Mart. One Saturday I was standing in line behind an old married couple. They had gray hair, were stooped over with age and never said a word to each other while in line. The husband was giving their merchandise to the cashier while the wife stood a few feet back, holding a single red rose in her hands.
The entire time she was in line, she kept smelling the rose and then looking at it with the most content smile on her face I have ever seen. Her look was full of memories. Memories of all the roses she had been given in the past. From the first rose her husband gave her at a school dance, to the roses she received when their first child was born, and the single rose he buys her on occasion "just because." Those memories and the simple pleasure of the single stem in her hand made her face glow as though she had been given a dozen roses with a diamond ring in the center of one. But it was just a single rose.
Her husband took the rose from her so they could pay for it, but then gave it right back. I don't know whether she picked it up herself or not, but the pure joy in her face makes me think that her husband picked it out just for her. My imagination (and not-so-hidden romantic side) likes to think that she was holding just one of the hundreds of roses he had given her over the years. And no matter how many more she'd be given, she would always show that much pleasure in a single rose given to her by her beloved.
I love flowers more than just about anything in the world. I hope that someday I meet a man who will buy me flowers for special occasions and "just because." But even more, I hope that no matter how many flowers I'm given, I never lose that look of pleasure like the woman in the Wal-Mart checkout lane.