Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)
TITLE: Special Flowers for My Sue-Bee
By Theresa Veach
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As I talked, I could see my mother-in-law’s face lighting up, my ‘Sue-Bee’ as the family affectionately called her. “Can I go with you this year?”
I could feel my heart drop down into my stomach. How could I tell her no? How could I tell her this was my tradition, my day, my special time that I look forward to all winter long? I love her, but at times she could be difficult to please. She certainly was one of the greatest teachers in my life. “Sure. That would be great,” I choked out.
True to my promise I picked her up for our day out together. It was unusually hot, with temperatures hitting the 90-degree mark. My Sue-Bee wanted to go everywhere. There wasn’t a nursery in town we didn’t visit. She wanted to make sure she got the best flowers, no ordinary bedding plants for her. She wanted something different this year, something special. Would anything please her? I was tired. I was sweating. I was downright cranky. She was giving me a lesson in patience.
Finally she found them, two special hanging baskets. I was relieved; she had finally found something that pleased her. Now she needed hooks to hang them on. Fine. We’d get the hooks and I’d be on my way home. Usually by this time I would have been done playing in the dirt and enjoying the living color of my garden. Now all I wanted was a shower and a nap, but my day wasn't over yet.
“Will you help me hang the hooks so I can put up my baskets?” My head began to throb. “Sure. No problem.” I think I even managed a smile. I climbed up onto a wobbly folding chair. Looking up into the sun, my head began to spin from the heat. My knees began to buckle from exhaustion. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get those blasted hooks put in place. The wood was just too hard. After almost passing out trying to please her, I had to admit I just couldn’t do it.
She was disappointed and boy did she let me know it. “I try to make things nice around here and nothing ever gets done right. I probably won’t get those baskets hung all year.” That did it. I was going home. I was done, done, done. I vowed she would never go with me again. I drove home fuming. I had given up my favorite day of the year for her. I had run myself ragged for her. Was my husband ever going to hear about this!
I remember flying into the driveway, slamming my car door and stomping into the house. As usual, a flurry of words came flying out of my big mouth, “Nothing ever pleases that woman!” My husband looked at me calmly, “I know just how you feel.”
I stopped dead in my tracks. Who was he talking about? Her? Me? I remembered all the times he had tried to do things for me and it was never quite good enough. He didn’t fold the towels the way I liked. He didn’t wash the clothes properly. The color of the paint in the bedroom wasn’t right. I stood there convicted to the core. I guess my mother-in-law was teaching me about gratitude.
Just as I had vowed, my mother-in-law did not go with me to buy flowers the next spring. I went to buy flowers alone. I went to buy flowers for my Sue-Bee. Oh to have my Sue-Bee back. I would take her anywhere she wanted to go. I would buy her all the hanging baskets she could ever want and I would hang a thousand hooks for her. I guess she was teaching me about what is truly important in life—people.
I placed the flowers near her. Looking up into the sun, I hoped she was smiling down at me, pleased with all she had taught me and pleased with the special flowers I had chosen for her, special flowers for my Sue-Bee.
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