I have a Godiva box that looks like it was painted by Monet sitting on top of my dresser. I don’t know where the box came from or if it was ever really mine but I’ve had it since high school. My guess is that my mom received chocolate from a student and Dave ate the chocolate and I got the box. I took the box to Notre Dame and it stayed in Siegfried Hall with me, moved it to various apartments in Chicago and now it has traveled from house to house around Richmond with me.
The box has petals in it. There are rose petals, tons of tulip petals, petals from a calla lily and even pieces of a gladiolas. They are all the same color now – a soft peachy brown and if I touched them they would surely crumble.
The petals all came from arrangements my dad gave me. For him special occasions were acknowledged with flowers. In college I would always get a huge bouquet for my birthday which usually fell during finals week. I didn’t really have a place to put them then. They would sit on top of a stereo or in the corner of a not very used desk. In Chicago the flowers filled up a picture window overlooking an empty bus depot. A couple of nights before Justin and I got married my dad arrived in Chicago and gave me a gigantic Waterford vase. Beginning in ’95, I finally had the perfect place to keep my flowers.
The flowers kept coming. I had gorgeous arrangements for all of the kids births. Dad brought bright yellow tulips with him when he came to meet Eva, his first granddaughter that he said he couldn’t wait to explore Paris with. The flowers were so remarkable that a couple of nurses actually came to see them and not check on me or Eva.
Whenever dad arrived at my house he had flowers with him. Fresh cut something from the market that he picked up on his way down. My birthday arrangements were usually filled with reminders of my wedding flowers – a random calla lily or a white tulip.
This year when I planted my vegetable garden I added some sunflowers that I am sure Dad would have loved. Whenever I have an event of some sort at the house I follow the example my dad set and find the most fabulous flowers in the area. Two weeks ago I traveled to three stores before I found flowers that were to my liking. I’ve decided ranunculus are my new favorite and it just so happens to have been one of the words my dad made toddlers repeat.
After my dad died I got a note from an old friend remembering the bouquets he would send on my birthday each year. She said my relationship with my dad was her first model that let her know that you could have a real, adult relationship with a parent.
So I keep the flowers in my Godiva box and I keep the memories of each locked up in my mind. But how lucky am I to be able to remember my dad and feel his presence each and every time I see a flower. That is one special gift.