Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Make the Widow's Heart Sing

When I was about 13 years old, my church youth leader Donna Clark created an unforgettable experience for me and my comrades. The project was inspired by a phrase from Job in the Old Testament: to cause the "widow's heart to sing for joy."

Each of us were assigned to a widow in the neighborhood. We made plans to honor these women at a special luncheon. To prepare, Donna spent several weeks teaching us the skills to carry out our mission. We learned how to plan a menu, cook simple, delicious food, and create homemade invitations. After a lesson in cross-stitching, each of us spent hours personalizing an apron, with our guest's first name, to present to her at the event. I got a lot of stitching experience because my widow's name was long--Georgianna. Also, we each practiced a talent for the entertainment. I decided to learn and recite "The Daffodils" by William Wordsworth. I still remember the last two lines.

And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

At the long-anticipated luncheon, we listened as these experienced, wise women shared a little about their lives. As you can imagine, the ladies loved the occasion. At least they made us feel that way. I still have Georgianna's thank-you note. Donna's lesson was not lost on me and my friends.

So, today, as I was privileged to deliver roses to many different widows (one just made a widow last week), that phrase kept running through my mind. Make the widow's heart to sing for joy!

Nelma had her beautifully bound life-history on her coffee table. As I carefully skimmed through the pages, she told me that she's asked her children and grandchildren to read the stories--the lessons learned--and not just look at the pictures. I hope they heard her.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Leaky Eyes and The Semi-Colon Club

You've all played it. The check-out lane game at the store. You think the lane you're in is the slowest ever. So you switch to another. Well, I usually lose at that game, so today in Costco I decided to stick it out. I held my bouquet of persimmon-colored roses and watched customer after customer check out in the lane next to me. The old man ahead of me had concerns about the price of what he was buying. Then he had trouble writing out his check. What was beautiful was the patience and kindness of the checker. It made me not mind the wait.

Anyway, the reason I write all this is because I am glad I got delayed. It made the timing perfect to run into a certain Costco employee as she was finishing her break. She commented on the beautiful color of the roses I was holding and we started to chat. I gave her my first flower, and she sent me to give the next one to a worker at the customer service counter. This woman (I'll call her Jen) was so touched by her co-worker's kindness that she even teared up. She really needed to know someone cared about her today. When I took the third rose to Jen's mother, I saw where she inherited her leaky eyes.

Jen's mother is a hair dresser at an assisted living center. When I first entered the salon, I just stood back and watched as Jen's mother shaved an elderly woman's chin with a straight razor. At first I smiled, thinking I should get in line. But then my heart was warmed as I watched how tenderly she worked, and how she kept reassuring the woman who obviously didn't like the lotion on her face. When she finished I got her attention and explained the reason for my visit. Gratefully, with tears in her eyes, she accepted the rose and note from her daughter. Then she promptly sent me back to Costco to take my next rose to none other than Jen. I couldn't refuse.

And so the chain went on today, interrupted just a couple times when someone wasn't home.

One more part of my day.... I don't usually tell people about my cancer. But sometimes when they just can't figure out why I am out delivering flowers to strangers, I tell them about my situation and how this is something I do to keep my mind off myself. Well, today I met a grandpa who used to have colon cancer. We've both had surgery, so we both belong to the semi-colon club. But what I want to say about this man is how his home felt. It was a peaceful place. More than just quiet. It was peaceful. He showed me pictures of his family and shared a couple experiences with me, things I needed to hear. Things I'll probably just put in my journal instead of here.

It was a good day.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Changing the Question

It takes a bit of energy to go all over town on my rose game days. Yesterday I was SO thirsty. I kept thinking I should stop at a drive-thru or something. But once I get another address going in my GPS, I'd rather just move on to the next house.

Jill* was next. She and I talked for a while on her front porch. Then she got chilly and invited me in. She was thoughtful and contemplative as she shared some of her struggles and experiences. She spoke openly of God. When I'm out delivering roses, I'm never the first one to mention spiritual matters, but for some reason it comes up a lot.

Jill told me of a couple instances when she was miraculously healed. Those and other experiences led her to have strong faith in God. So for years she asked him to heal her depression. "You have healed me before. Why won't you heal me of this?"

Then one day it occurred to her that she might be asking the wrong question. Now, when she prays, she simply says, "What do you want me to learn from this?"

She still struggles. It doesn't look like her problems will be solved anytime soon. "But at least," she says, "I know what questions to ask."

As I walked to my car to deliver the next rose to Jill's friend, she poked her head back out her front door. "Would you like a water bottle for the road?" Gratefully, I accepted.

*She gave me permission to post her story if I changed her name.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Assistant

What a treat to take my daughter on deliveries today. The first 8 roses went among her friends. I tried to stay in the background.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The rose isn't that important

I was sent to deliver a rose to Margo. It turns out she didn't need the rose. She needed me.

Her sweet old mother let me in, and I found Margo running around her kitchen. Platters of eye-pleasing food cluttered the counters. “I need help, and I literally didn't have time to call anyone.” I put the flower down and said, “I’m here.” While she frantically cut vegetables and directed her mother to get parsley from the garden, I rolled balls of fragrant gingersnap dough in brown raw sugar, two at a time, and filled the cookie sheets.

I couldn't quite catch all that she was saying…something about a teacher appreciation social (maybe?) at the elementary school behind her house.

Margo loaded her car with all the deliciousness and off she went while I stayed behind to wait for the cookies to cool.

The whole experience reminded me of something my good friend Kathy G. taught me. Sometimes when we want to visit a friend, for whatever reason, we think we need to come with a loaf of bread or a plate of cookies... or a rose. But maybe all that friend needs is us. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cancer Schmancer

My cancer is nothin'. That's how I felt today as I delivered roses to a few women who are going through trials much greater than mine. It's a privilege for me to sit with a person in their home and hear a little about their life. In fact, it is an AMAZING privilege. Why don't we take the time to do it more often, I ask myself.

Marlene and I hit it off. Maybe it's because we both have yellow walls in our homes. She's an interior designer and a great-grandma. Her health won't permit her to go to church, or to many other places, for that matter. But she has a beautiful, warm, yellow living room where she goes to pray in the evenings. Lovely. I could have stayed in that room with her all day if I didn't need to get home to my kids returning from school.

Today my troubles were forgotten. And I made some new friends to boot!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Lesson Learned

I started out today gung-ho. When she heard about my rose game, my friend Sally from Kansas had requested via Facebook that I take a rose to her life-long mentor in Springville. From the way Sally lovingly described her I was excited to meet this angel of a woman. Unfortunately, she wasn't home. So I left the rose and a card with words of love from Sally.

As the day went on, my efforts seemed fruitless. No one was at home or at their office desk. I left a lot of flowers on doorsteps or with the receptionist. Was I wasting my time? My game didn't seem fun anymore.

I stopped early. I was tired and a little discouraged.

When I got home, there on my front porch was a bouquet of flowers. A friend had remembered that I started back on chemo today (after a short break) and wanted to let me know she was thinking of me. Oh sweet, sweet friend.

It was okay that I wasn't home to receive the flowers when she brought them. I still felt her love and my day was immensely brighter.

So maybe today's efforts weren't in vain after all.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Le jeu de rose à Paris?

Wouldn't it be awesome to try my rose game in Paris? That's what I thought before I left. But, really, how would I do that? I don't speak French. I couldn't zip around the city like I do in my car at home. Pretty impossible. Still, I prayed that I could figure it out somehow. For some reason it felt important to me.

Our first night in the City of Lights we dined with our Utah neighbor, who was also our flight attendant, and several of her Delta co-workers. It settled my traveling jitters to know that a couple of them spoke French and that they had all been here several times before. As we ate our delicious dinner, a man walked up to my husband to sell him a rose to give to me. Actually he tried to sell him several roses as David was seated with nine beautiful women. The ladies said, "Ah, buy your wife a rose!" So he did.

We parted ways with the Delta crew and found our way back to the metro station, with only a couple wrong turns.

On the subway I twirled my rose. At the next stop a little girl and her mother sat across from us. I smiled at the little girl. I twirled my rose. I looked at the little girl... and at my rose... *Ding!* I handed it to her. Yes, she was pleased as she smiled up at her mother. Her mother said, "Merci!" I ventured, "Je vous en prie." (I'd been practicing that one for a while--ask my family.)

The mother (Ellen) spoke English pretty well. We had a nice little conversation. She was really friendly. She and her daughter (Claudia) made me happy. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for giving me an opportunity to give away a rose!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


One of the rewards of this venture is seeing people reconnect with old friends.

A few months ago I gave a rose to my neighbor Erika. She thought of a friend whom she hadn't seen in years but used to know well. Their children had grown up together. With a little sleuthing on the internet Erika tracked down Dorothy's address and sent me off to deliver my second rose.

Dorothy greeted me warmly, even before she knew who I was and what I was doing. When I explained that the rose I presented to her was from Erika, she lit up. She wanted to know all about how Erika and her family were doing. I was able to tell her about Erika's brand new granddaughter. Dorothy was thrilled!

Well, later Dorothy called Erika and their friendship was rekindled. Erika invited both me and Dorothy to her granddaughter's baby shower.

A big surprise came for me when Erika showed up at my house with a gift from Dorothy. It was a beautiful hand-knit prayer shawl accompanied by a thoughtful note. I cried with gratitude for both these lovely women.

When my husband saw the gift, he said, "Wow. All that for just a rose?"

Yes. Well said. Wow.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


I don't always choose a yellow bouquet, but I'm glad I did today. Carol was grateful to receive a yellow rose. Yellow roses are her favorite because they were her Aunt Dorothy's favorite. Aunt Dorothy didn't have any children, so when Carol was little she became Dorothy's "daughter."

One day when Carol was five she stood at a chain linked fence waiting for Aunt Dorothy's plane to return from Europe. But it never did. The pilot tried to take a shortcut and crashed into a mountain. Carol's mom told her Aunt Dorothy flew to heaven.

So Carol loves yellow roses. She chose them for her wedding bouquet. She puts them on her aunt's grave. Maybe, just maybe, Aunt Dorothy up in heaven was thinking of her "daughter" and made sure I picked the yellow ones and took one to Carol.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cute Mother and Son

Today I ended up in Target looking for a certain employee. That felt a little weird...walking around the store with a couple roses. I was hoping no one thought I just took them out of the flower cooler.

The employee wasn't there, so I had to choose someone else. A little nervously, I walked into the optical department and handed it to the lady at the desk. I explained what I was doing, which is always a little difficult when it's from me, a stranger, and not one of their friends. She received the flower graciously and sent me to check-stand 3 where a friendly older woman was running the register. I gave it to her from "Melissa in Optical." Since she was busy doing her job, I didn't want to interrupt her too much, so I just gave the other rose in my hand to the customer she was helping.

The customer was so cute. She wanted to have her son's opinion--he was about 5--of whom to give the next rose. They finally settled on Allison who had her third chemo treatment today. It was going to be from the little boy. I was so excited to take it to Allison, because I know how much it means to receive little bits of love when going through chemotherapy.

But here is where the sad part comes in. I went to the coordinates that the mother gave me and it wasn't right. I drove all over looking for the home she described. (She didn't have the house number.) Oh, it made me so sad to not find it. Next time I will know to get the person's first and last name or phone number, especially if I don't have an exact address!

I loved how this mother involved her son in the process. How do you involve your kids in service?

Not home

Sometimes people aren't home. Okay, a lot of times people aren't home. In that case, I just leave the rose on the doorstep with a note explaining who it's from and any message the person wanted me to deliver. Hopefully it will be a fun "welcome home" surprise for them.

Recently I got a call from my neighbor friend who cleans houses. She had received a rose a couple years back when I used to play the game in my own neighborhood, so she knew all about it. Well, she was calling to tell me she had just been to a client's house (a few miles away) and found a rose that I had left on that doorstep that day! Small world, eh?

The Invention of the Rose Game

It all started by the rose bouquets in Costco. "Boy, those are beautiful and only 15 bucks," I said to myself. I knew I could make someone's day. After way too much deliberating over colors, I grabbed a bunch and checked out.

Back in the car I got to thinking. If I could make one person happy with 24 roses, why not make 24 people happy with one rose?

Driving home I decided which neighbor to visit first. What fun it was to show up on her doorstep with an unexpected gift! (Way more fun for me than for her, I'm sure.) After a brief visit, it came to me...why not ask her where I should take the next rose? She sent me to another neighbor. "This rose is from Rebecca," I said. After some delightful chit chat, I said very formally, "I have another flower. To whom shall I give it?"

This was giddy fun! I went all around the neighborhood.

The third-to-last person sent me to someone I didn't know a few streets away. And she told me the first friend who popped into her mind. Little did she know that this friend was grieving the passing of her dog. I was glad I stood on her doorstep that day with my last flower.

This was a few years ago. Since then I've played the game many times because it makes me happy. I've branched out of my neighborhood and been all over the valley, meeting diverse, wonderful people.

Someone said I should write a book about my adventures. I think this little blog will suffice for my own remembrances. And...maybe someone reading will be inspired to start their own game, their own way.