I spent the week before my daughter’s June wedding running last-minute trips to the caterer, florist, tuxedo shop, and the church about forty miles away.
As happy as I was that Patsy was marrying a good Christian young man, I felt laden with responsibilities as I watched my budget dwindle . . .So many details, so many bills, and so little time.
My son, Jack, was away at college, but he said he would be there to walk his younger sister down the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died a few years before.Â He teased Patsy, sayingÂ he’d wanted to give her away since she was about three yearsÂ old!
To save money, I gathered blossoms from several friends who hadÂ large magnolia trees. Their luscious, creamy-white blooms andÂ slick green leaveswould make beautiful arrangements against theÂ rich dark wood inside the church.
After the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, weÂ Â banked the podium area and choir loft with magnolias. As we leftÂ just before midnight, I felt tired but satisfied this would beÂ the best wedding any bride had ever had! Â The music, theÂ ceremony, the reception – and especially the flowers – would beÂ Â remembered for years.
The big day arrived – the busiest day of my life – and while herÂ bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her fiance Tim walked with meÂ to the sanctuary to do a final check. Â When we opened the doorÂ and felt a rush of hot air, I almost fainted; and then IÂ saw them – all the beautiful white flowers were black. Â FuneralÂ black. Â An electrical storm during the night had knocked out theÂ air conditioning system, and on that hot summer day, the flowersÂ had wilted and died.
I panicked, knowing I didn’t have time to drive back to ourÂ hometown, gather more flowers, and return in time for theÂ wedding.Â Tim turned to me. “Patricia, can you get more flowers?Â I’llÂ throw away these dead ones and put fresh flowers in theseÂ arrangements.”Â Â I mumbled, “Sure,” as he be-bopped down the hall
to put on his cuff links.
Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the dark woodenÂ beams in the arched ceiling. “Lord,” I prayed, “please help me.Â Â Â I don’t know anyone in this town. Â Help me find someone willingÂ to give me flowers – in a hurry!”
I scurried out praying for four things: the blessing of whiteÂ magnolias, courage to find them in an unfamiliar yard, safetyÂ from any dog that may bite my leg, and a nice person who wouldÂ Â not get out a shotgun when I asked to cut his tree to shreds.Â Â As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the distance. Â IÂ approached a house…No dog in sight. I knocked on the door andÂ an older man answered. So far so good….. No shotgun.
When I stated my plea the man beamed, “I’d be happy to!” HeÂ climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and handed them downÂ to me. Minutes later, as I lifted the last armload into my carÂ trunk, I said, “Sir, you’ve made the ‘mother of a bride’ happyÂ today.”
“No, Ma’am,” he said. “You don’t understand what’s happeningÂ here.”
Â “What?” I asked.
Â “You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on Monday.Â OnÂ Tuesday I received friends at the funeral home, and onÂ Wednesday. . . He paused. Â I saw tears welling up in his eyes.Â Â “On Wednesday I buried her.”Â He looked away.Â “On Thursday mostÂ of my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on Friday -Â yesterday – my children left.”
He continued, Â “This morning, I was sitting in my den crying outÂ loud. I miss her so much. For the last sixteen years, as herÂ health got worse, she needed me. But now nobody needs me. ThisÂ morning I cried, Who needs an eighty-six-year-old wore-out man?Â Â Nobody! I began to cry louder. Nobody needs me!” About that time, you knocked, and said, ‘Sir, I need you’.”Â IÂ stood with my mouth open. Â He asked, “Are you an angel? The wayÂ the light shone around your head into my dark living room…”
Â I assured him I was no angel.Â He smiled. “Do you know what I wasÂ thinking when I handed you those magnolias?”
“No. I decided I’m needed. My flowers are needed. Why, I mightÂ have a flower ministry! I could give them to everyone! SomeÂ caskets at the funeral home have no flowers.Â People need flowersÂ at times like that and I have lots of them. They’re all over theÂ backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches – all sorts ofÂ places. You know what I’m going to do? I’m going to serve theÂ Lord until the day He calls me home!”
I drove back to the church, filled with wonder.Â On Patsy’s wedding day, if anyone had asked me to encourage someone who was hurting, I would have said, “Forget it!” It’s my only daughter’s wedding, for goodness’ sake! There is no way I can minister to anyone today. Â But God found a way. Â Through dead flowers.
“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the way it is.
Â The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.”
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