Last Time Counts For All

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I’ve sent flowers to my Grammy for years now, ever since she moved into the nursing home and didn’t need more knickknacks to clutter a small apartment.  Her birthday, Christmas, Mother’s Day; always a bouquet, always love from me.
But last night was my last order. She’s dying.
Oh, let’s be honest; she’s been dying for years.  She’s ninety-six, and in amazing spirits for all of that.  When I saw her last month, she asked about my heart, urged me to exercise, was happy to hear I was going on a cruise with my family, asked about my Mom.  Maybe she repeated herself a bit, and you had to speak louder so she’d hear you, but I doubt you could have a better conversation with someone in their nineties.
But with age comes the ravages thereof, and she has been fighting a failing body for decades now.  And now she’s refused to fight.  Never in a mean way; that’s not her style.  But she doesn’t eat unless prompted heavily by the many loving family members who come to visit, and she keeps asking whether this is really necessary.  And so, after realizing the next set of treatments would destroy her quality of life, my family has put her on hospice.  She’ll eat when she sees fit, and take only the barest of medications.
I don’t know how long she’ll last.  No one does.  But none of us thought she’d make it this far, so she may surprise us.
And I thought oh, well, she’s in her mid-nineties, she’s literally had the best life I can imagine, that’s sad but it’s inevitable. When my Dad told me, I heard and then went out to lunch.  I’d been braced for this for years, no biggie.
Then I realized: this will be my last chance, ever, to send her flowers.  So in a panic last night I went to 1-800-flowers and ordered her a nice big bouquet of daisies, her favorite, and clicked the “Finalize Order!” button and then had to go for a very long drive with the windows down.
I hope the florist sends her the right flowers.  I know from long experience that whatever you order online often has very little resemblance to what you get, and they may decide to replace it with tulips, or daffodils, or whatever.  Will she know that I meant daisies?  She will not.  She can’t even talk on the phone any more, not really.
And I could, I suppose, get on the phone to emergency change the order, to tell the florist how terribly important this all is, but…. I don’t know that it’ll matter.  I don’t know how she is today.  Maybe she’s already in bed, sleeping her days away.  Maybe she’ll never know, not really, now that she’s off the big medications.  I know my temptation is to make a big deal, send flowers every day until she’s gone, but… that’s not her way.  She hates having a fuss made, hates being reminded of bad times.  She’d want to steal out of life quietly, like slipping out of a lovely party, which for her it has been.  A family that adores her.  Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, all summoned to her side effortlessly for endless parties, a house by the seashore, a husband who doted on her, a bond of Steinmetzes brought together by mutual worship.
Dear florist, I hope you know that my Grammy has a magic power: she makes people better by only seeing the best in them.  Anything unworthy or shabby about you is discarded in her eyes, only the good reflected back, and when criminals are in her presence they straighten their backs and live better.  She quietly sees you as so wonderful, clapping her hands in joy, that you vow to be wonderful, and walk out of her presence a better person.
You don’t know that.  You can’t know that.  And yet, inexplicably, your flowers will be my last, clumsy message of love to her.  Whatever you decide today will be my last gift to her, my last way of telling her that I care, this random bouquet of flowers on her windowsill.
I hope you give her daisies.
I hope she knows just how much she means to me.
I hope.

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