My Flower Friend

At last! Someone who loves my flowers as much as I do.

By Kim Rothrock-Mack. Art by P. Savage

I think it’s the way I came to flowers that makes them so important to me. I was looking for something joyous to balance the dread I felt within after 20 years in nursing, 20 years of watching people in pain and dying. Towards the end, I kept noticing how I remembered the names of flowers I saw. I don’t remember much these days and have begun to think memory highly overrated, but the flower names seemed a clue, a clue to something that might help me shake my depression.

So I planted a flower garden. That was two years ago. Now I have six flowerbeds and two herb beds. I compete with my husband and his vegetables for each new bed we establish. I am heavily addicted to flowers now, especially those with sweet scents. I think I’ve always appreciated scents because of my mother, who’s lived her entire life without the ability to smell. Somehow the flower smells help balance out the awful smells of my nursing past. The flowers flaunt life, filling the air with their flirty, sweet scents. I make daily rounds to examine every little change—finding a reason to get out of bed, to hope. In the solitude of the garden, everything is as it should be.

Except for one thing: my occasional desire to share it all with a friend. When I absolutely can’t stand admiring some exquisite new bloom alone, I’ll demand that my husband come look at it. He always thanks me for the opportunity, but after one or two flowers, he has wandered to the bean trellis to check how long the Romanos are today. I corral our rare visitors into looking at the flowers, but they, too, fail to give detailed, caring attention.

I was just about ready to give up on sharing my new powerful joy with another as crazy as me—when I saw her down in the lily beds. She was clearly on a lily tour, heading straight from one patch to the next. She knew right where they were without even looking for them. Clearly she had the garden memorized. My own heart fluttered in beat with her rapid wings as my desire was realized. She knows my garden as well as me, maybe better, and the flowers feed her life like they do mine.

Twice now she’s visited while I was watering. She dances tentatively at the outer edges of the spray, asking me to hold the hose still, which I do. The sun on the spray creates rainbows that she darts and dances through. Her own pastels milk in the watery arches of color. Other birds take baths, but my speedy hummingbird prefers rainbow showers. Other people and birds like flowers, too, but my flower friend and I live on them.