Last Sunday, my thoughts were just as drab and boring as the world I had been walking through. I felt trapped as I made my way down the main aisle of the backroom of my workplace. I was surrounded on all sides by dull, concrete floors, light gray steel beams, and plain brown cardboard boxes. But then just like in the Wizard of Oz when black and white scenes suddenly blossom into brilliant color, I noticed something crimson red shining just to my left side. I turned around and gasped as I caught my breath.
“Oh, those are beautiful!” I sighed as I came to a complete dreamlike stop. I suddenly forgot why I had been in such a hurry as I focused on the long stem roses that were lying in a blue basket. The black handle of the square basket was resting across Bernard’s left arm.
“Do you want a rose?” the assistant manager asked me.
“Really,” I smiled. “I can have one?”
“Of course, you can,” he answered as he offered the basket out to me. I thanked him profusely and grabbed the stem of a large blooming red rose. I pulled the luscious flower from the basket and held it up to my face to breath in the delicious scent of the petals. “Okay,” Bernard said after I had been completely intoxicated with the sweet aroma. “You have to let me take your picture now.”
That’s when I noticed that Bernard was holding a digital camera in his opposite hand. I’ve always been very uncomfortable in front of cameras. So, now, I shook my head. “No, thanks,” I told him. “I’ll have to give you the rose back.” I started to place the beautiful, perfect creation back into the basket. Refusing the picture was actually a graceful way out for me because I had suddenly realized that the roses actually had a special purpose. The flowers were for Mommas. I had completely forgotten through the course of my busy workday that it was Mother’s Day. I don’t have children of my own and my mother had passed on seven years ago. So, of course, I don’t really have a reason or a right to celebrate Mother’s Day and, honestly, it is a holiday that makes me really sad. I sighed wistfully as I placed the rose back into the basket.
“No, it’s okay,” Bernard told me. “You can have a rose. Go ahead and keep it…and I won’t force you to have your picture taken either.”
I just shook my head no and slowly began to back away. I didn’t deserve the flower. “Thank you, Bernard,” I told him. “I do appreciate it but I’m not a mother. I don’t have any children. These roses should go to mothers today.
Bernard just laughed then and said, “It doesn’t matter. You can have a rose, too, if it makes you happy. Come on. Take one.” He held the basket out to me again.
I couldn’t stop smiling now as I grabbed hold of the stem of the flower I had just returned and pulled it back out of the basket. “Thank you,” I told him.
“That’s fine,” Bernard answered. “Just enjoy it.
And I did. Holding the rose and running my fingers over the red, feather soft petals made my day a little brighter. I was really missing my mother and the rose made me think of her. I thought about the rose bush my mother had planted and carefully nurtured in the corner of our backyard when I was a child. But then, thinking about my mother who had sacrificed so much for me, I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty. I wondered if I had taken a rose away from a woman who was much more deserving than I could ever be. Did I just steal a rose from one of the many gracious women who went through the pain of childbirth and suffered sleepless nights taking care of sick children?
Honestly, I would have loved to have been one of those women. But certain life situations and health problems such as ovarian cysts and uterine tumors prevented me from feeling worthy of a rose. But I also had to admit that the flower and Bernard’s kindness, the way he included me in this simple tribute, made me smile and brightened my day.
A week later, Sunday, May 20, 2017, I was back at work and having a rather bad day. I kept repeating to myself New Age affirmations to help me make it through my work hours. “A good or bad day is just my perception.” “I can use my power of positive thinking to make this a better day.” But nothing seemed to help. I spent the day struggling with even the most minor tasks. I just couldn’t seem to adjust to the stress of the day and my frustration was pushing me to the point of tears.
As I struggled to pull myself together that afternoon, I suddenly heard someone calling out to me. I turned around to see Charles standing behind me. “Here, this is for you, Jamie,” he said as he held out his hand to me. “Take this and hold onto it until your day becomes better.” I stared down at the small, red rose resting in his palm, and my heart suddenly filled with hope and gratitude. I was so touched by Charles’s sweet gesture. “Thank you so much,” I answered. “That’s so sweet of you.” I reached out and took the rose from his hand. As Charles walked away , I pinned the rose to my shirt and immediately began to feel much better. What an amazing blessing that gift was! And now, after all of the positive thinking I tried to force on myself, that simple rose made me feel so much better.
I thought now about both roses I had received over the last two Sundays and I realized something. Though I regret not being a mother, though I am ashamed of myself for not handling my frustration better, people still cared about me. I don’t have to be anything in particular or do anything special for people to think of me. I had no reason to feel inadequate or ashamed or lacking in my life. I don’t have to have a great job or a lot of money. Instead, all I had to do was be kind and have a good heart and there will always be people to support and help me.
My coworker’s kindnesses reminded me of the love Jesus Christ holds for all of us. He knows our regrets and our failings and yet He continues to love and support us anyway. He continues to help us grow strong and beautiful and blossom into special spirits….just like my beautiful perfect roses. I am so blessed!
Thank you so much, Bernard and Charles, for your kindness…and my roses!