Flowers and a Birthday Cake

It was July of 1985 and I was an exchange student in France that month.  I would turn 16 while I was there. I stayed with the Martinellos in a small village called Gap.  Doesn’t sound French, does it? But that truly was its name. It’s near Lyon, in the southeastern part of the country. Map of France--for blog post

The Martinellos owned a flower shop in town and they were there all day, every day.  Their mornings started about 7:00am and they didn’t return home till after 6:00pm.  Natasha (their daughter) and I had a good time wandering the streets, shopping and talking to other shop owners.  She knew many of them since her parents owned the flower shop. Many times I wandered around alone enjoying the sights and sounds, noting how it all compared to what I experienced at home.

We traveled to many different villages each week, setting up a booth to sell the flowers in the street. It was completely different from everything I’d ever seen, having grown up in the desert.

I did grow homesick after a few weeks there.  I missed my family and friends.  There were a couple times that I’d think about them, wishing I were back there. Especially as my birthday drew near.

On my birthday, I discovered Mom had snuck a present in my suitcase.  I opened it and smiled. It was costume jewelry—a colorful bracelet and necklace. I was still sad, though.

That evening, after the shop had closed, Mrs. Martinello served diBirthday Cake with Candlesnner and then came out with a surprise.  She’d bought me a birthday cake!! “Bon anniversaire Ellen”, they cried. Really? They remembered?  I smiled from ear to ear.

I was their guest for another week or so before returning home.  It was my first time overseas and I enjoyed it a lot.  Spending time with a family and being involved in their daily lives was eye-opening and holds fond memories for me. Celebrating my birthday was one of them.

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Roses For No Reason

Half a Dozen Red Roses

Photo courtesy of pixabay

By Ellen Andersen

It was an ordinary day at work. I’d been in and out of patients’ rooms, developing discharge plans for them when they left the hospital and returned home. In the middle of the day, someone came to the office and asked for me. When I answered, he came in with a bouquet of half a dozen red roses.

 

Shocked, I wondered what they were for. The card attached said they were from my boyfriend, Doug. It wasn’t Valentine’s Day. It wasn’t my birthday. It wasn’t an anniversary. Why in the world would he send me roses? I had no idea, and the card didn’t provide any clue either. It just said, Hi Ellen. Hope you’re having a good day. Love, Doug.

Doug was romantic, but he didn’t have a lot of money. I couldn’t figure out why he would just decide to send me roses. We’d been dating for about six months or so, but this was a lot.

“Wow! Is it your birthday?”

“No, I have no idea why he sent them.”

“Really? Is it your anniversary?”

“No. I really don’t know why he gave them to me.”

My husband’s never sent me roses”, my supervisor said. “You must be really special to him”

“I guess so…” I said, still puzzled.

The next time we saw each other, Doug asked me if I’d gotten them.

“Yes, I did. What made you do that?”

“I was just thinking about you and wanted to let you know”, he said.

“Wow. Thanks “I said. “That was really nice. It made me feel special. Everybody at work asked me why you’d sent them and I couldn’t tell them. It was funny because they didn’t believe me.” He just smiled.

It’s been nearly 20 years and I still have no idea why Doug sent flowers that day. But I think I’ll always remember it. It brightened my day and told me how much I meant to him.

Click to tweet: Small acts of kindess: Roses For No Reason by Ellen Andersen. #kindnessmatters #ValentinesDay

Housewarming Surprise

I’d just bought a new home and while it had a nice floor plan, it needed some TLC in the front. Overgrown bushes hid the house from the street and obscured the view from the kitchen window. mauldin-home-before-taking-out-front-bush Dad and some friends spent quite a bit of time getting rid of some of the bushes. One day around noon, Mom suggested we go over and see how it was coming along. They’d made progress. We went inside and pretty soon a friend of mine from my Bible study drove up.

 

She said Mom had called so she decided to come over to see how things were progressing. After a few more minutes someone else from Bible study showed up.

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Soon more and more people showed up, having planned a surprise housewarming. Some who couldn’t be there even arranged to have gifts delivered on their behalf. I later learned Mom and my friends had planned it all a few months earlier, having made sure I would be there when they came.

 

They’d ordered pizzas for lunch too! I spent the next couple hours talking with good 220friends about my new home and opening their gifts that ranged from toilet paper to hand towels to dishwasher detergent. Flour, sugar, and vanilla (because I love to bake) soup and picnic supplies were among other gifts.

 

It was so thoughtful of them to think of it and plan the surprise for me. It’s wonderful to have friends you trust with personal joys and struggles, who will celebrate exciting news and even surprise you like my friends did that day. It’s times like this that make me realize I’m truly blessed.