Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Planner, as Quirky as She Was

Grandma even put a tag with the intended recipient’s name on her conch shell.

As a child, we often visited my grandmother’s home. She lived only a few miles away, but her home was like another world. It wasn’t simply that she lived in a tiny, one-bedroom apartment, so different from my family’s two-bedroom bungalow (actually a three-bedroom once we converted the small family room into a bedroom for my brother). It wasn’t the oddity of the unending plastic tube of my grandmother’s oxygen tank that snaked behind her from the bedroom wherever she walked in the compact living space. It wasn’t even the plastic covers on all the furniture (though those were an adventure themselves during hot summer months). Mostly it was the continual reminders of my grandmother’s mortality that popped up whenever you picked up an item in her home. At some point long before I can remember, my paternal grandmother had assigned future ownership of everything of importance in her home via tiny stickers with family members’ names on them.

I never coveted any particular item. I was too young to want most of them. I simply can remember admiring certain items and noting the son’s or daughter’s-in-law or grandchild’s name to whom it would one day be given. The large pink conch shell that she and my grandfather had purchased on their honeymoon would one day be bestowed on my aunt. Several large books of coins and stamps eventually went to my brother and my cousin.

At the time, I didn’t consider it odd to discover the mini reminders as I browsed her home because the labels had been around for as long as I could remember. And they weren’t morbid to me because I never connected them to my grandmother’s illness. But I suppose her emphysema must have made her aware of the limits of her life far earlier than most people her age (she was only in her mid 50s when she died).

Obviously, my grandmother was a planner. Perhaps she is the person who passed on that trait to me, though I’m not sure I can envision organizing my life to the degree my grandmother did. Nevertheless, I hope that I can leave a bit of myself with my grandchildren that brings back memories for them the same way my grandmother has done for me. She was quirky, no doubt. And I’m guessing that’s just one more trait she passed on to me.


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A New Purse Vs. a Dozen Bouquets? I’ll Take the Flowers.

Valentine’s Day was just a few weeks ago, and now Mother’s Day is around the corner. Both are two of the biggest days for sending and giving flowers. And while lots of people turn to bouquets to show loved ones they care, many don’t give the gift of blossoms another thought during the rest of the year. They consider flowers an indulgence or, worse, a waste of money.

I hate hearing people say such things. Because the truth of the matter is that the people who make such statements are, to be very honest, simply uninformed. It’s not their fault, of course. Most Americans just know very little about how to care for flowers. (It’s a different situation in Europe, where the purchase of flowers is as important as a fresh loaf of bread or gallon of milk.) As a result, most consumers receive only a few days’ pleasure from the posies. But the fact is that flower care takes only a few simple steps. And the result is not only extra days but weeks of pleasure from your purchase. (And, truly, the steps are easy: Simply empty the vase water every few days, thoroughly washing and rinsing the container; refill with fresh water and fresh flower food—the little packet you get from the florist—and trim off an inch or so from each flower’s stem before placing them back in the vase. That’s it!)

But besides the obvious beauty flowers provide, actual research—yes, real scientific research—supports the fact that flowers improve our lives. I know, you are rolling your eyes. I’ve heard the skepticism before. But studies have proven that receiving flowers has a direct impact on making us more positive in our outlooks and attitudes. (If you’re interested in the actual research, visit this link to review the work of the Rutgers Ph.D. who has conducted the multitude of studies.)

Whether they are for your own emotional health or simply a way to show others you care, flowers are the antidote to many of life’s dips and trips.

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Filed under Florists, Flowers, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day