Tag Archives: Grieving

Yellow Roses

I left Walmart today in tears, and this time it wasn’t because the fresh ginger was $3.98 a pound (it was, and I’ll probably end up throwing most of it out, again) or that so many of the plants on the clearance rack were nearly dead (they were, but I couldn’t fit them all in my cart).  Nor was it the People of Walmart – although I did see a few interesting outfits.  No, nothing like that.

I met a man.  A sweet, older gent near the fresh flowers.  I’d stopped to admire the yellow roses – a favorite of mine, a favorite of my mom’s.  I picked a bouquet up to sniff – no fragrance – anymore roses seem to have no fragrance.  Or maybe it is me…nothing seems to be as it should anymore.  Flowers are not fragrant.  Sunrises do not hold the same promise – even my favorite foods don’t bring the same joy (doesn’t stop me from eating them, just doesn’t bring the same joy).  Music isn’t as wondrous, colors aren’t as fabulous, nothing seems quite right.  I have a good life, with much to be grateful for, but still life seems to be slightly off-kilter.  Unbalanced somehow.

The sweet older man shuffled next to me, clutching an identical bouquet.

“Are these yellow?” he asked me, his hands shaky.  He held the bouquet closer to my face.  Through his thick glasses I see the clouded lenses of cataracts in his eyes.

“Yes, they have a touch of peach blush on the tips of the petals, but they are yellow,” I said.  “Yellow roses are my favorite.”

“They are my wife’s, too,” he said.  “It’s her birthday.”

“That’s sweet,” I say.  I see that tears are forming in his eyes and his thin shoulders begin to shake.

“She’s up in Sarasota National Cemetery,” he sobs.

The caregiver in me takes over and I hug this stranger.  I have been there.  I’ve had more meltdowns in stores than probably anywhere else.  The card aisle…the beer aisle…when I see the peanut M & Ms…flowers, sports paraphernalia, Home Depot – where he would roll his eyes at the plants I would buy that he knew he would have to plant, then weed.

“I lost my husband last year.  It’s hard, I know,” I tell him.  He hugs me back.

“She’s been gone eight months,” he tells me.  “God, I miss her.  Sixty-six years we were together.  Sixty-six years.”  He shakes his head and wipes his eyes.

“You were blessed.  We were together nearly 37 years,” I tell him.

Soon we are sharing pictures, and laughing through our tears.  He chooses another bouquet of mums and lilies to accompany the roses and we say our goodbyes.  I watch him shuffle off…and I put my bouquet of yellow roses in the cart.  They have always been my favorite.

I realize, watching him shuffle away, that I don’t have a corner on the grief market…I don’t even have a good-sized corner lot.  I was blessed, I am blessed – I still have a fabulous life.  I have someone in my life who has also lost his significant other – roughly 10 days after my husband died.  Together we have carved out a relationship of companionship, trust and support.  We both thought we would spend the rest of our days with someone else but the cards we were dealt dictated otherwise.  We never have to explain the pain, the grief, the feelings of loss – the bottomless pit of sorrow that threatened to swallow each of us individually.  I have family, and friends, home, and enough.  Enough to work toward regaining that balance in this world someday.

And yellow roses to help.

 

 

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Employee of the Month

 

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I closed our last joint account yesterday.  It was a very hard thing to do.  Sad. Poignant.  Excruciating. The customer service rep who assisted me was very kind and gentle – she had assisted me last year with some matters after my husband’s death and even remembered the details of our accident.

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Not at all like the perky young woman in August who wiped out a 40 year history of the customer he had been at the bank we had used for our entire marriage with a cheery demeanor that probably earned her the title of employee of the month.  If so, I was going to find her car in the parking lot.  I made a mental note to key it on the way out.

“I’ll just take him off here” she said, tapping away on her keyboard.  “And here.” More tapping, and smiling.  “And…..here.  Done.”  She wheeled over to the printer, then rolled back to the desk.  She shoved some papers in front of me to sign.  Which I did, slowly, meticulously, with my beautifully written married name.   I kept the pen she had handed me.  I wondered if I had anything stronger with which to puncture her tires.  Probably not.

I contemplated whether either of my kids would bail me out of jail if I jumped across the desk and shook this lovely creature by the neck and shouted in her face “Look, he wasn’t just a name on an account.  He was your customer for 40 years. Forty years.  He was a good man, a decent man.  He loved his family.  He loved me.  He thought I was beautiful – even when I was anything but.  He mattered.”  But I did not.   She was young and fresh-faced and enthusiastic.  More than anything, I hoped bad things didn’t happen to her.  Ever.  I hoped she never felt empty and lost and alone.

“Here’s your death certificate back,” she handed me the folded document along with copies of my newly signed paperwork.  I stuffed it all into my purse.  I shook her hand and thanked her.  At least I think I did.  I walked slowly out, tears streaming down my face.  Past a former co-worker who stopped me to offer condolences.  I waved her off – I could not talk.  Past the employee of the month parking spot…

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So, yes, yesterday was tough.  The last account.  But thanks to gentle handling by a thoughtful employee I got through it.  Thank you for asking about my granddaughter.  For asking about my sons.  For asking even about my dog.  For remembering those details.  For caring.  For recognizing how tenuous my grip was, how close to the edge I live.

You, madam, are Employee of the Month.  And yes, a donation has been made in your name to the Animal Welfare League.  Thank you.

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