Flower Arrangements

Flower Arrangements

As I walk into my elderly mother’s retirement community apartment building, I always look to the left for the flower arrangement.  The genteel foyer opens slightly with a curve in the hallway, in which there is a polished circular cherry wood table.  Except for December, when there is an artificial evergreen tree covered with white and gold needlepoint Christian religious symbols, there is always a lace doily and a flower arrangement of some kind displayed.

When my parents first moved to this building I was entranced by this- the Japanese feeling of celebrating the season in an alcove, for all to enjoy.  I wondered about the committee of ladies who I imagined met and maintained this tradition.

I began to notice that- aside from the Christmas tree and an annual July driftwood and shell scene- there were two kinds of arrangements.  There would either be a fairly grand vase or basket of live, cut flowers, or else there would be a smallish vase or basket of silks.

And I learned from my mother that it is not a committee but a single Dottie Luddle who takes charge, forming the silk arrangements from a cache of containers and polyester and plastic floral offerings kept in a cupboard in the laundry room.  Away from dust.  And she feels underappreciated.  And she posts somewhat querulous notes on the cupboard doors complaining when something goes missing or askew.

And I learned that the real cut flowers are not welcome.  For of course they require maintenance.  You have to be vigilant to withdraw the fading, wilting stems and you have to decide when the whole shebang has got to go.

And of course, I came to realize, they are funeral flowers.

Today there was a big, cut arrangement.  And indeed, while the pale roses were taut and the mums alert, the delicate delphiniums were turning down instead of reaching up on their fine stalks.  And the glorious, showy white lilies were shrinking and turning an indeterminate color.

I wonder what I will do when I am that flower lady.

11 thoughts on “Flower Arrangements

  1. I laughed out loud when I read “And of course, I came to realize, they are funeral flowers.”
    I hope I’m not a Dottie when I”m her age. Funeral or not, fresh flowers are so lovely.
    And I confess, while I don’t leave notes, when things don’t go my way, I am inclined to grumble.
    Loved your post!


  2. Very thoughtful. Your piece left me wondering about objects and items that I see in my day to day life. Whether it’s in a school building, store or some other space, displayed items are frequently displayed symbolize something.


  3. I love the name of your blog! Glad you have joined in!

    And this writing captures so much. It makes me think of seeing a similar table and similar flowers, seen when visiting family members and friends in a similar building. And then it brought to mind my mother’s flowers on the table in the foyer of our church on the Sunday after her funeral…


  4. Your description put me right there looking at the arrangement with you. Poor Dottie, toiling away and not having her efforts recognized. What sadness the fresh flowers bring.


  5. Loved your post. It required me to read and reread carefully to fully understand the messages throughout the piece. Having had family in nursing homes I was accustom to funeral floral arrangements – a sign that someone in the community had passed. So, your post made me think of those times – but also had me thinking a lot about Dottie. Who is she? Why is she the one caring for the arrangements and making new ones? Is floral work her passion … but the feeling of under-appreciation has caused her to be a bit bitter? I wonder how she might find the joy in her passion again?

    I look forward to LEARNING and GROWING with you during this Slice of Life Story Challenge!



  6. It sounds like the flower arranging is very important to Dottie. I wonder what her stories are.

    I like how your post made me think.


  7. Here is the writer I know. Eloquent Fran!! It is the humor amidst the frality of life that balances and makes for safe reading… I too wonder what I will do when I am that flower lady!


  8. Wow! You have a way with words. I could totally see each arrangement of flowers. I enjoyed your look into look into your mom’s community. (I think there are a couple Dotties at my church!!)


  9. What a sweet, poignant memory about this time in all your lives. It’s amazing the little things that become a part of our routines, that make us stop and think and wonder. Nicely captured. Thanks for sharing!


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