When my husband and I married 20 years ago, he whisked me off from my small town Lexington home, to the hustle and bustle of New Jersey. Although, I loved my husband, and my new job with Hospice, I missed my family and friends, and I was desperately homesick, to say the least.
Each night, when I said my prayers, I would ask God to help me meet new people, to fill the void of emptiness in my heart, and to help me be a good wife. Perhaps, the most difficult of these requests was for God to help me be a good wife. You see, as an only child, I was a tad bit spoiled. My parents always took care of me. I never learned to cook, budget, or garden. I was not at all domestic and I feared that if I could hardly take care of myself, then there was no way that I was going to be able to take care of a family. Then God sent me Nora.
Several weeks into my Chaplain job at Hospice in New Jersey I received a call to visit a new patient in a nursing home. When I arrived I met Nora, and in that meeting my life changed forever. Nora was a lovely elderly woman. She was beautiful both inside and out. She had a radiant smile that could brighten the darkest day. And, the joy that her personality illuminated would lead one to believe that she had led a life of privilege and ease. In contrast her real life was that of a dying woman, with no family, who was permanently bed ridden, and alone.
Nora and I hit it off instantly. It was like we had known each other forever. She would share stories of her life with me, and I would listen intently as she gave me advice on cooking and gardening. Each week I would try out her suggestions. It was as if I were her legs. I was her one way to get out of bed and put her adventures into action. Every week I could not wait to see her and share my escapades with her. We would laugh until we cried about no matter how hard that I tried everything that I would cook turned out awful (it still does). Nora and I decided that God must have blessed me with other talents than cooking.
The one thing that Nora taught me, that I could do right, was planting flowers. Nora would say, “Child, the key to planting flowers is to plant ones that are like your personality. You, my child, need to plant impatiens. They are beautiful. They grow fast. And, they are wild at heart.” I noted her advice and thought to myself, “this spring, with Nora’s help, I will plant impatiens.”
Then the spring came and with it a call that I had dreaded. Nora had died peacefully in her sleep. My grief was unbearable. I needed to do something with my grief and I wanted to do something to honor Nora. But, what could I do? Then it hit me, the flowers, I could plant flowers for Nora! And, I did.
That night I brought crates of impatiens home. I planted them, in the rain, until the wee hours of the night. With every flower a tear fell and with every tear I would make a heart in the dirt, cover the roots with soil, and I would say “God loves you. I love you. Now grow.” And, they did! By the end of the summer my yard was covered with impatiens. They were absolutely beautiful…just like Nora! Every day I would see them and I would think of Nora, and immediately they would make me smile. Exactly like Nora did every time that I saw her.
That was 20 years ago, and every spring I still plant impatiens in memory of Nora, and with every flower I plant I still draw a heart and say, “God loves you. I love you. Now grow.” And, every year I still cry a little, and I laugh a little, remembering her. But, mostly I smile. And, in the whispering spring wind I can hear Nora sing back to me, “God loves you. I love you. Now grow, my impatient child, now grow.”