Every day I visit my hibiscus bushes. When it’s dry, I carry water to them. Most days (if the sun has been shining) they give me lovely pink, red, and golden flowers. These I carry inside and place at the shrines of my departed parents and grandparents, mother-in-law, and great grandparents. I deposit the blossoms in vases and say words to the effect of “For you, dear Mother, with my love,” or “For you, dear ancestors, in the name of your great, great grandson,” or “For you, dearest Muffet; how I miss you.”
Since I do not believe that any of the ancestors “are up in the sky with God,” as my grandson once said, why do I perform this ritual? I have to admit that it is a penance of sorts. Doing it acknowledges my regret that I did not give them more flowers when they were alive and able to enjoy them; that I did not express my love more constantly when they could appreciate it. And awareness of that regret reminds me that the time to express love and give flowers is when the recipients are alive and aware, not after their hearts have stopped beating, their bare bones are decaying in cold graves, and they have no consciousness. That is exactly what my husband does. Hardly a day goes by that he doesn’t bring a vase with a fresh flower to my desk. Often a rose, but when they are not in season, it could be a daffodil, tulip, iris, freesia, magenta, lily or whatever is blooming in the gardens he nurtures.
Yes, give flowers to the living! Show and tell my husband that I love him every single day. Let my children know how much I cherish them by calling or sending an email or text message. Call a far-away old friend when I think of her; she’s probably in need of a chat. Give some oranges, tomatoes, or a plant to a friend for no particular reason. That is my resolution for today and every day henceforth—to express my love for the living while I still have the strength and breath and while they are still here to appreciate it.