Maybe I figured that if they loved the gift I could take the credit, if they hated it I’d spread the blame to the other men. I’ve also made a lot of jokes about getting the “tribute” or paying “ransom” as applied toward getting this gift. I’m sure I even used the words “bribe” and “pay-off”once or twice.
Last time I did this I bought Harry & David Chocolate Truffles. We put three in a little plastic see thru bag tied a ribbon around it and attached a saying from our prophet about the goodness of women in the world. A couple of High Priests stood by the back doors after sacrament meeting and handed the little bags to each woman as she left. I heard it was well received.
I thought I’d do the same thing this year but then I heard the Relief Society was going to pass out truffles- homemade truffles- to the women. The year before the women received live Basil plants. That made sense to pass out something that would be useful. Being the uncreative gift giver that I am I resorted to giving out flowers. I didn’t know much about flowers so I felt impressed to talk to Larry Carpenter, who’s a hobby farmer, and knows a lot about flora. As we talked he mentioned he had some little plastic pots I could transfer the plants into. Since I had a budget I needed to keep under my first impression was to buy these four packs of pansies, separate them out and put one flower in a container. This would keep me well under budget. So I stopped off at Home Depot and, after surveying the flower racks, picked out some pansies, violas and a few marigolds.
It had been raining all week but every morning I would take the flowers out of the garage and put them in the back yard so they could be exposed to whatever sunshine that poked through. I watered them if it didn’t rain enough that day then in the evening I’d carry the trays back into the garage.
Saturday morning I spent several hours in the rain washing out the plastic pots and transferring the flowers from the four packs. I had determined earlier that one flower didn’t seem to be enough which caused a second trip to Home Depot. I decided to put two in each of the small pots. Some went in easily but others, like the pansies, had large root systems and it took some effort to separate them out of their original pot then twist, turn and pack the two flowers into their new container. I watered each again and left them outside that afternoon.
I just prayed that they would still be alive Sunday morning. Frankly, my feeling was these flowers only needed to stay green and healthy looking until 4:00 Sunday afternoon. After that they were out of my hands and it would no longer be my responsibility.
Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, I got up at sunrise, dressed in my walking sweats and went outside. It was a beautiful morning, not a cloud to block the warm sun’s rays. I quickly moved the flowers out of the garage and put them in our driveway so they could soak up as much sunlight as possible before locking them in the trunk to take them to church.
The viola’s were looking droopy, the pansies’s flowers were folded and bent but the marigolds stood straight and tall. I wished I’d just bought all marigolds. I shifted the plants in the trays then looked at the sun’s position, estimated what area of the driveway would be sunniest longest then moved the trays accordingly. A couple of the trays had three rows of flowers. I was concerned the flowers in the middle row wouldn’t receive as much sun so I pulled each of these out and placed them individually on the cement.
As I began to pull these small plastic pots out I noticed how dirty the outside of each pot had gotten. Repotting the flowers hadn’t been easy and with the cold and rain I’d been in a hurry to get the job done. Now, as I looked upon the gold, orange, yellow, violet blue flowers spaced randomly on the driveway, basking in the sun, I thought about the women who would be receiving the flowers today and reflected that none would want to have to carry a dirty pot around. I then went back into the garage and picked up one of our old spare towels we use as rags, took it into the kitchen and placed it in the sink and soaked it with hot water. I rang out the excess water then went back to the flowers.
Picking the first pot up I carefully wiped the dirt from each side and the bottom. It brought back some memories of wiping the faces of my children with a wash rag after they had eaten. I smiled and paused for a moment, basking in the reflection. Then, looking closer at each plant more closely, I noticed a few yellowing or bug bitten leaves which I pulled from the stems. I went through this same process for each potted flower, picking it up and gently wiping the dirt, pulling any yellowing leaves or dead flowers, and making each one as presentable as I could.
As I did so I began to think of the significance of giving a flower on Mother’s Day. A flower or plant doesn’t need constant watching over and care but it does need help in order to survive. It needs planted in good fertilized soil, in an area that will receive the amount of sunlight and water it needs to survive. It occasionally will need dead flowers and leaves plucked and weeded.
Strangely, as I worked, I became filled with compassion, not only toward the care of these flowers but also to the women who would be receiving them. I didn’t want any woman in the Ward to feel they received an inferior plant. The flowers are different, some in full bloom, some need some time and patience for the plant to come to full flower. They are different colors and have varied needs. Some have lots of room for roots to take hold while others in the smaller pots are in an area that seems limiting. I even changed one of the pots I noticed had a crack. I didn’t want a sister in the ward to feel they were undeserving or had to settle for an inferior gift.
I was pleased the flowers were still alive and looking good after the day some were repotted, even though I’d been a little rough on some of them. I remembered that today, I am alive and looking pretty good, even after life had been a little rough lately. Today, I learned from a flower, about Heavenly Fathers tenderness and compassion for each of us, especially His daughters. I think these flowers might just be a great tribute.