For my birthday, my husband bought me a luxurious ‘spa day’, complete with a facial, massage, lunch and a mani/pedi. I didn’t really want the manicure because, let’s face it, for us gardeners a manicure lasts about as long as a daylily’s bloom. But I couldn’t turn it down, so off I went.
I brought along a gardening magazine, and the young Vietnamese woman who was doing my nails couldn’t stop craning her neck to see the pictures. She finally spoke and told me how much she loved gardening, and what beautiful pictures the magazine had. She was a gentle woman with the softest voice I’d ever heard.
In her barely audible voice, heavy with a Vietnamese accent, she then told me how she loved looking out the salon’s window at the bed of tulips that were in full bloom. And how during the terrible storm we had, she’d watch them bend over to the point of snapping, heavy with rain, and would quietly pray that they ‘hang in there’. Then the winds came, and she thought they’d surely be destroyed, yet they still ‘hung in there’. She couldn’t believe they survived the 10-day storm without any damage whatsoever.
While telling me all about the tulips, she was looking at my magazine, and would occasionally glance up at me, not really paying attention to polishing ‘within the lines’. But that was okay, as I loved seeing her lose herself for just a bit, telling me all about the tulips.
She then asked me if I had any children, and when I asked her the same question, she got even quieter. A year ago she had a miscarriage, she quietly whispered, and her heart is still so heavy she can’t think about another for at least a year. She told me three times how much she ‘loves all babies. All babies…’ and was so, so sad. As if my manicure wasn’t messed up enough, as soon as I wiped away my tears, my hair dragged through my thumbnail leaving streaks throughout the polish.
I saw the obvious analogy right away.
I asked her if she thought she was like those tulips in the storm, bending to the point of breaking, waiting for it to end. By now the tears were freely flowing as we tried our best not to let the other women in the nearby chairs see this tender moment.
As I left, I gave her the magazine that she couldn’t stop looking at and felt so grateful to hear this woman’s story. I’m constantly touched at how deeply personal flowers can be to people. Even people without gardens, a flower can touch the soul.