Monday, July 13, 2015

Flowers…It’s The Little Things (or Maybe They Are BIG Things!)

Did we love Flowers?  Azalea from Backyard of our old house.
April, 2013

I love flowers.  Bill loved flowers.  We had flowers everywhere.  We visited any garden or sought out any festival that boasted an abundance of flowers.  Flowers have brought me huge doses of comfort.   Flowers have also been the catalyst for some of my most painful (not to mention embarrassing) meltdowns! 

Many decades ago when Bill was a struggling graduate school student and I was in the early stages of a career that could barely support us, we would dream about the little luxuries we would choose if the day ever came that we had “discretionary” income!  We just loved saying that word.  It sounded so fancy and we would just laugh!  His top choice would always be that he would have his shirts professionally laundered and pressed.  My top choice was that I’d always have fresh flowers in my house!   I am happy to say that the day came when BOTH of those things happened.  Bill kept our yard full of flowers, sent me flowers often and most of the time, we did have fresh flowers in the house.
I wanted to share some of the ways in which friends and flowers are loving me through this most horrible period in my life!

Bill died early on a Wednesday morning.  Beginning the following week, someone left a bouquet of fresh flowers on my front porch every Wednesday morning.  When I opened the front door, there they would be!  Beautiful, gorgeous flowers.  Something different every week.  At first I had no idea who it was and it took a few weeks to catch her in the act, but I finally did.  She tells me that “someday,” it will stop, but to this day, I still receive fresh flowers every Wednesday.  I cannot begin to tell you how special this is and what it has meant to me.

Although virtually impossible for me to choose a favorite flower, tulips rank right up there.  Bill knew very well how much I loved PURPLE tulips.  He died on March 18 and the tulips began blooming very soon afterwards.  I took a walk one day near our condo and came upon what is always a bed of beautiful tulips.  Only two were blooming that day – two perfect purple ones!  I literally fell to the ground in a puddle of tears.  It was awful, yet cleansing.

Purple Tulips - March 30, 2015

Getting through the tulip blooming season was difficult and I am grateful to a dear friend who made the annual pilgrimage with me to see the tulips at Biltmore.  It you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve seen many pictures of Bill and I in the gardens at Biltmore with the tulips.  You also saw pictures of us in the Biltmore gardens with the mums (mums and iris were HIS favorites) in the fall!  Thankfully, Bill was able to make both trips in 2014 and I am grateful for the last pictures I have that he took in the gardens at Biltmore.

Biltmore Gardens - April 26, 2014

 Bill's last trip to Biltmore - October 12, 2014
He took this picture of the mums he loved so much!

Unfortunately, my meltdowns in public places over the memories brought on by flowers were not over!  Another of my favorites is Gerbera Daisies.  Shortly after the tulip incident, I was with my mother in Walmart and we happened upon some beautiful planters of Gerbera Daisies.  Deciding they would make me smile, I chose one and made it to the checkout line, but when the clerk looked at me and said, “how beautiful,” I burst into tears.  It scared the poor lady to death.  I am so grateful that my mom was there to explain.  Needless to say, we got out of there quickly, but my Gerbera has thrived!

Early spring at our old house!
See the tulips and gerberas? - April, 2013

There is an amazing grower of Daylilies not far from our home.  They primarily sell via the internet, but have a festival each year near the end of June.  The same friend (she’s a real trooper) went with me to the Daylily Festival this year and we came away with our “free” daylily.  She gave me hers and I planted both in what I’ve decided will be Bill’s Daylilly Garden in my front yard!  He had nurtured a gorgeous garden of Daylillys at our old home and I now regret not bringing some of them along.  But I can still hear Bill’s sweet voice saying, “no, we will start a new one!”  So that’s exactly what I have done.

Oakes Daylily Farm - Corryton, TN
June 26, 2015

And then last, but certainly not least, I made a new memory last Thursday.  My new friend (see my last post), Tami, and I learned almost simultaneously via Facebook of huge fields of sunflowers in the Forks of The River Wildlife Management Area near our homes.  This is actually an area near my OLD home that I’ve walked hundreds of times and of which you’ve seen many pictures through the years.  Since I am not often around during the heat of the summer, I was not aware of the planting and growth of these fields of sunflowers.  Just look and judge for yourself!  What joy this brought me and what pleasure to share a new memory with yet another friend.
 Sunflowers at Forks of the River WMA

Flowers and friends.
One is a little thing.
The other is a HUGE thing.
Putting the two together bring me joy.

July 7, 2015



  1. Sorry to hear that Bill had passed away, I only just picked up on it in this blog. Can't begin to know how it feels to loose a partner though I have been through the pain of loosing my parents. It took me a while to get over though I think it will take you a while longer. Cherish the memories you have. of Bill

  2. Flowers can evoke such wonderful memories. What a sweet and thoughtful thing your friend is doing for you to remember your husband's day of passing.

  3. What wonderful memories! I too find a walk through our garden comforting, but my breakdowns come in places like church, at the sound of a particular song. Increasingly though they're happy memories.

  4. This is a lovely post Sharon. Tulips are my favorites too and I always vowed to have fresh flowers in the house but didn't often do it. I'm glad you did and that the flowers are helping you through this awful awful time. What wonderful friends you have to bring you flowers and go with you to see them. I am so happy for you in the support you have to help you through this.

  5. God bless you as you walk your path of grief and work at healing your broken heart. I am so sorry to hear about your husband's death. As another Knoxville resident, I reached out to you in September, but I never heard back. My husband was battling pancreatic cancer. He ended his battle on December 26. And I have been struggling ever since to build a new life without my best friend. And yes, grief can take a hold of you at the most unexpected times. It sounds like you have a terrific support system, and you are blessed to have that. My support system is dismal and isolation has been my biggest challenge. Best wishes to you, and may your many memories bring you comfort.

  6. I'm happy to see you writing about your experiences handling your grief. Since we've always had a cat in our home I've never had flower arrangements indoors, the cats love htem a little too much!

  7. I am glad you are finding those little ounces of joy where you can. I am also glad that you are allowing yourself the space to grieve. The 'ambush grief' can be frightening. Those times will begin to slow and the joy will increase. Even though you will always miss your precious Bill, you will smile more when you think of him rather than cry.

  8. I love that you are starting a little memory garden for Bill. I think it is perfect.

  9. Although sometimes painful, the lovely flowers will bring you good memories of your beloved Bill.

  10. Hi Sharon. Thank you for contacting me. I am so very sorry for your loss. Our stories are so very similar. Happy marriage and new retirement ended by that terrible disease - cancer. My husband was from Chattanooga and was an alum of UTK. We spent several vacations in the Smokies. I am so happy to hear from you and will be reading more about you. I am not back into my photography and posting and commenting yet, but know that I am here lurking and commiserating with you. May our hearts heal and the memories remain.

  11. I am so happy that you are finding joy and memories through flowers. What a wonderful way to carry one Bills wishes by planting a new flower garden in his memory. Thinking of you often and praying for you.

  12. What wonderful memories! While they may be bittersweet, I am glad you find comfort and can relive those memories through the flowers. :)

  13. Hi Sharon! I am so very sorry for your losses. I'm glad you are surrounded by loving friends and family. I believe those 2 purple tulips were there for a reason, even if it was very painful at the time. You will be in my prayers.

  14. I can understand why you feel the way you do. Life can be very hard at times. I believe in taking the next step however hard that it is. I've suffer grieving several times. As I listen to you I take it all in so deep and seriously. I have never had a husband to love me. Had a husband once and he left I never remarried. I am a young 64 :) My life is not settled and since retiring I'm trying to find a new normal. Sold my house and moved next to my daughter as that is what works well for us. We both give each other space and enjoy each others company with lunches and such. I pray your load will lighten. You will feel less confused. Your heart will heal slowly and you will find some small thing that brings delight to your day. Keep pushing on and one day you will wake up and you will recognize it is easier than it once was.

  15. Thinking of you. Just sending you good wishes and continued strength for the new years.