🥀 Flowers Fill in When the Words Aren’t Easy

photo credit: If You Only Knew ... The Flower Of The Dark Side via photopin (license)
photo credit: If You Only Knew … The Flower Of The Dark Side via photopin (license)

Kids’ gifts rock.

“Thank you for your troubles!” my daughter offered, outstretched arms holding a single plastic flower in a simple plastic vase. It doesn’t matter that the sentiment made no sense. It was adorable, from a kid.

(Did I mention she’d already celebrated her 16th birthday at this point?)


Kids know there’s an air of goodwill when it comes to flowers. Even when they’re given to mom (and picked from mom’s garden.) Kids draw suns and flowers and cars and the moon with smiling faces. If it’s happy, it can smile.

Marie – with flower buttons. I wonder how hard it would be to get her into a shirt now with flower buttons.

Flowers symbolize life’s beauty and sadness. Flowers to me have symbolized expressions of awkward crushes and memorials for my dad.

They’ve foretold spring and delivered throat-coating pollen.

They became the show of hope and appreciation I could afford as a young man in his first job with a new family.

They represent my home state (Colorado Columbine) and adoptive state (North Carolina dogwood.) Flowers are both the expression of light and the extension of light in the darkness.

Nothing to lose your head over

What’s the story, morning glory? This is an Elise lily. Rare and beautiful.

Great ideas in the eighth-grade mind don’t always become great ideas in the world.

Words can’t possibly do the trick to get the attention of a tenor sax player, I’d planned it out: I’d write a love note (on music paper – how rich is that?) and stash a single long-stem rose in the bell of my baritone sax. After the jazz band concert – bam. Instant teenage romance.

When I pulled the rose out, the stem stuck.

It left me with a handful of rose petals and a thorny stem stuck in my sax. When that happens, a note doesn’t stand a chance. Not even on music paper.

Carolina in my nose (and ears and throat)

Me, as a teenager, with the kissing wenches at the Renaissance Festival in Colorado.
Me, as a teenager, with a kissing wench at the Renaissance Festival in Colorado.

To be fair, it’s not just flower pollen that gets me sneezing.

Here in Carolina, it’s the tree pollen that really kills me. It’s all worth it though. The spring flowers once portended outdoor study days, opening day for baseball and co-eds in shorts and spaghetti straps.

As a young dad, they told me the time had come to take the girls outside, flipflops and ponytails.

Now, the blooms pop open just before spring soccer season, one last chance to see just how much we’ve learned and grown and just how far that and heart will take us as a team.

They had my back

Grace, with brown eyed susans (or are they hyacinths? I know nothing about flower identification) that survived a summer of soccer play in the back yard.

My coworkers had my back – the whole way.

I didn’t know it at the time. With my dad an hour away at Duke Hospital, the sports desk staff at the News & Record in Greensboro planned an alternative shift for days I couldn’t make it to the office. Every day. Can you imagine? Almost a month of everyone being on call. And no one said a word.

They were family. My editors wrote me personal notes after dad died. My desk mates drove to Charlotte for the funeral. They took care of me when I was sick and alone in the weeks after, they again covered for me and drove me to doctors’ appointments.

If that wasn’t enough, they pitched in for a beautiful peace lily for my dad’s funeral. During the saddest weeks of my life, they showed me love and support that I couldn’t always see. In the end, that lily reminded me of all of it.

# # #

So stick a plastic flower in a plastic vase. If you make enough in tips, stop by a local florist and hand-pick enough for a vase. Order flowers online for someone on your mind from a company like FreshFlowers.com.au (a Melbourne flower delivery service, but also ships flowers to cities all over the world).

Or make a flower craft with the kids.

Flowers say what you want to say when the words aren’t easy. Or known, or even necessary.

What have flowers said for you?

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.

flowers quote


  1. this is one of my favorite posts of yours ever, eli. i love flowers and all that they represent, as well. they are a powerful emotional force, much stronger and more beautiful than kryptonite.

    1. wow, and you’ve been around here quite a while, beth. glad something in this resonated. flowers in and of themselves are plants that can’t move – yet they find a way to move us.

  2. Wow Eli, what a remarkable team to work with when your dad died. That’s so sweet and kind of them to cover for you, all without saying a word.

    I love fresh flowers too. They brighten up a room and are a great gift for seriously any occasion.

    1. They were incredible, Nina. No one felt it necessary for me to know what they did for me. Not a one.

      I think the last flowers I bought were for my daughter for after her play. I think it’s time to change that.

  3. Little Marie and Little Elise are too cute for my eyes in those photos!
    So amazing about your co-workers. I do love flowers. I don’t get them or pursue them often enough, but I did when my grandmother was still alive.

    1. They’re so tiny, Tamara. They’re not, any more.

      That was a great crew. A year after dad died, they took me out to a late dinner/early breakfast right after final deadline and we sat in a diner almost until sunrise. They remembered the date and took the initiative.

      I haven’t stopped to smell (or buy) the flowers lately, either.

  4. Such a sweet post and I have always told my husband that while some find flowers silly and a waste of $$$, they truly do rank up there in the list of little things you can do for someone, anyone! I think somewhere in one of my many journals I have a smashed dried up flower from each of my kids and each time my hubby gives me flowers of any kind, I take the petals from on of the flowers and toss them into a dish of all the other dried up petals from over the years of all the flowers he has given me. I am kind of corny that way. I am romantic at heart!

    Wonderful post Eli!

    1. I lived near a florist right out of college, and could pick just a few flowers for a few dollars. That’s what matters most – not the overpriced bouquet on Valentine’s Day.

      Flowers are about as romantic as it gets. Flowers or pizza. Wait, is that just me?

    1. I’d be weepy right now because I could really use a donut, but I can’t speak for you, Prudence. I think your mom would love some flowers from her girl, though.

  5. Hi Eli!
    Every time I read a post of yours, it becomes my new favorite.
    Just the other day, I was wondering if guys see the beauty and nature’s gift that flowers give. Turns out, you do! You just get it – as if I needed another reason to adore you.
    Here’s the other irony to this. Last week, I was asked to write a guest post for the Sisterwives. I clammed up and nerves took over. Lizzi said, “Just write something beautiful.” So I wrote about wildflowers…
    Flowers make me happy and I use flowers to help make others happy. I’ll drop you a virtual bouquet some day…you can share it with those lovely ladies of yours.
    Thank you for this. What a great way to start my day! Xo

    1. By consistently setting the bar low, Michelle, I pave the way for the next post to really shine.

      We guys appreciate flowers, even though we don’t know a larkspur from a snapdragon.

      Look forward to checking out your post. Sisterwives? That’s big-time, sister. Good stuff!

  6. you know what my garden means to me – complete Zen. there’s just something about taking the time to stop and consider a flower. Nature itself. I will always love it when someone gives me flowers. Most people find it so basic and common now; but I find nothing basic or common about a flower — nor the sentiment behind the exchange.

    A simple white flower is said to be the origins of Zen Buddhism…. otherwise known as The Flower Sermon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flower_Sermon

  7. This is such a gorgeous post, Eli. I love how you highlighted various scenes from your life — some where the flowers are the center, and others where they’re there but as a part of something bigger. Really amazing writing.

    1. Thanks Kristi. This post gave me a chance to retell some stories and haul out some new ones, too.

      So glad you liked the writing, too. Means a lot coming from you!

  8. I must lack the flower gene. It may be related to that other gene. The one that almost made me walk down the aisle in sweat pants because I just couldn’t bring myself to step into a bridal shop.

    To me flowers are prettiest in the garden. No need to cut them. If you’re lazy like me the water in the vase gets awfully smelly.

    Also sometimes it feels like sending flowers is the easy way out. I’d much rather people sit down and take the time and effort to find the right words, as hard as it is. Flowers wilt, notes don’t.

    I LOVE the support your coworkers gave you! World class! Are you still in touch with some of them?

    Lastly the pictures of your flower girls are priceless 🙂

    1. Sounds like a post to me, Tamara. The wedding stuff.

      You’re right though. What’s the logic in thinking, “what a pretty thing. let me cut its life short, keep it on life support in a vase, and use it to profess love or compassion as it dies a slow death?”

      (Kind of a downer!)

      But, then I think, who among us has a guarantee of a long time on the earth? I’d rather bring a moment of joy while I’m here than to exist simply to keep from dying.

      Woah. This is getting deep.

      My co-workers were amazing. I keep in touch once in a while. The universe has dispersed us everywhere.

      My flower girls are my favorite flowers for sure.

    1. I remember that one! Flowers in a vase can also be a lesson in beauty and impermanence. Some things are meant to shine, but then wither away.

      We have to hold on to those things that do not, and let them become part of us.

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