And now for something completely different…marigolds!
I’ve spent some time reading over my last few blogs, and it’s been a whole lotta’ heavy. If any of you are still out there reading, bless you. I know that I’m not easy to hang out with. I’m really not as dark as I sound. Well, at least not all of the time. So here’s a little respite for all of us. Let’s talk about marigolds.
This is one of my favorite times of year—the time of year when I get to plant marigolds. I really love marigolds, but I don’t know if I’d call them my favorite flower. I’m not sure I can lock into just one favorite blossom. Maybe blue hydrangeas. I grew to love them over all the summers I’ve spent on Martha’s Vineyard where they blossom in front of most every home. Or maybe Bee Balm—or violets—such vivid red and purple. It’s much too difficult to decide. However, Pete’s favorite flower was the marigold. In fact if you look over to your right, there’s a photo of the book cover for Joined At The Heart. Yep. A marigold in the title and on the cover. I love how something so small can become so significant.
I plant them because Pete loved them. He really enjoyed the small gold and yellow flowers, and he felt as though they signified that spring had arrived. I don’t think I’m speaking out of school to say that Pete’s first wife really didn’t like marigolds. She didn’t like the way they smelled. So when he and I first got married, he told me about this, and said he was never allowed to plant them. Of course, that was my trigger to plant them everywhere for him. It was so easy to make him happy—to make him smile. Just plant his favorite flower. So first thing every spring, I’d plant pots of marigolds in front of the house, along with a few that I kept inside.
When Pete was at death’s door at Texas Heart, just days before he had surgery to implant his VAD device, he had stopped talking. He was hooked up to every machine on earth trying to keep his various organs working. The doctors had dehydrated him almost completely. His tongue was like sandpaper and every ounce of energy he had was used up just to stay alive. So there wasn’t a lot of conversation between us. I think it exhausted him to even listen, so I said only reassuring words and that was about it. We were counting the hours until he could have the surgery that would ultimately save his life.
I wasn’t allowed to sleep in the ICU, so I stayed at a hotel about a mile away. I walked to the hospital every day. One morning I noticed that they had planted fresh marigolds in the flower beds outside of the hospital. It was late April. I knew that Pete would have loved to be able to be outside and smell the flowers. But he couldn’t, so I picked a couple and slipped them into my pocket.
The signs around the ICU were clear. “No plants or flowers allowed in Cardiac ICU.” I get it, but I ignored it. For all I knew he’d never live to see another marigold. So who cares, arrest me! I stood beside his bed and when the nurse wasn’t in the room I pulled out the marigolds and held them near his face so he could smell them. His big brown eyes were the only thing he could move—and they smiled. How something so simple can mean so much.
I really appreciated all the comments and conversation after last week’s blog. Please add your comments or questions below!