I sent my mom tulips for her birthday.  I had never sent her flowers before, and I probably would have counted that gift a waste of hard-earned money had I not fallen in love with flowers a year ago. I used to wonder why people gave them as gifts since they usually  didn’t last longer than a week.  Now,  I fall in love with a bouquet in the store and take them home to be reminded of the beauty, fragility and brevity of life. I did not become preoccupied with flowers or their symbolism naturally. It started  after I read The Florist Daughter, by Patricia Hampl. In the book Hampl writes,”Love and flowers, death and flowers. But flowers, flowers, always flowers, the insignia of  death, the hope of resurrection. ”
I place my flowers  on a coffee table where there are framed pictures of dead  relatives. I do this in remembrance of them.  In the center of the table I place the clear vase  with the prettiest flowers that I could  find that week in the grocery store. When there were just pictures,  I would walk by that coffee table every day without a glance to the frames that needed dusting. I didn’t pause to look at how strong my great grandmother looked or how handsome my grandfather was even as an older man. If I took the time, I could remember what he used to sound like, but I am always buzzing by that table to get to the next task.  The fresh flowers remind me to take pause. I know their life is short. I have to enjoy them before they wilt and die.  I know my mother will do the same with her tulips. She will smile at them and remember their beauty even when they’re gone. And, I will stop to smile at the beauty around me while I am still here. I will smell my flowers and remember to notice the beauty in the faces closed in their frames,  frozen in their time, and far from their hour of bloom.