Monday, December 6, 2021

A Bouquet of Kindness

“Fresh flowers on the kitchen table?!! Who gave us flowers?“ I asked as I rushed through the garage door into the kitchen carrying two bags filled with items for the trip we’d be taking in two days.

The bouquet of pale pink roses and purple accent flowers waited on the table wrapped in plastic with a pouch of flower food rubber-banded around the stems.  

“You know Kathy, the pharmacy tech,” Mike said as he stood at the sink peeling an apple. “I went to get my glaucoma drops and she gave me the bouquet.”

Kathy had told Mike about her mother’s death last year. Today, on her mother’s birthday, she wanted to do something special to honor her memory. When she saw Mike come in for his prescription, Kathy felt moved to buy the bouquet of flowers to say ‘thank you,’ for the nice things Mike and I have done for the pharmacy staff.

For the past several years, Mike and I have written cards to each member of the pharmacy team during the week of Thanksgiving. We enclose a gift card to Starbucks as a way to express our gratitude for the efficient way they prepare our medications, and for their friendliness each time we come in.

Back in April I dropped off a prescription and was told to expect a day or two delay. The pharmacist explained that these days, the first two hours the store is open, the staff is busy giving Covid shots and can’t begin to fill scripts until after 11:00 am, putting them two hours behind in their regular work.

I could hear the exhaustion in the pharmacist’s voice. I could see the fatigue in the dark circles under her eyes. With all of the frustrations of the past year, dispensing medicine, never closing the department, and now with the task of giving  covid shots added to their job description, these people were overworked and concerned about not getting their orders filled promptly for customers.

I wanted them to know their efforts were appreciated. Before leaving the store, I purchased a packet of six thank you cards, enough for each person in the department. I stopped by Starbucks and got six gift cards. Dropping off my bundle of care the next day, I was delighted to add some cheer to their busy schedule. 

People who work in these roles usually deal with complaints, late orders, conveying insurance denials of payment to customers, and other unpleasant tasks. I didn’t expect them to remember our small gesture, but our simple notes of gratitude left an impression.

Now, seeing the flowers of gratitude Kathy had sent to us, I had a fresh idea. Over the past few years, I have learned how to dye fabric from natural ingredients. I sorted through the bouquet and cut the blossoms. I dropped them into a pot of boiling water and waited a few minutes for the dye to appear. I poured the dye through a strainer to remove any traces of flower petals or leaves. I folded some specially-treated fabric in the dye and let it sit for two hours. I removed the fabric and let it dry, then cut squares to make a small nine-patch quilt. I wanted to say how much I appreciated the bouquet, and to give Kathy a tangible reminder of her kindness to us on her mother’s birthday. 

When I finished making the small quilt, I wrapped it in white tissue paper, wrote a note explaining what I did to the flowers, and put it in a small bag.Taking the bag to the grocery store a few days later, I was happy to see Kathy working. The pharmacy was busy but she took a moment to greet me. 

“I made something  to thank you for the flowers.” She looked surprised as I handed her the bag.

She walked away from the counter, tucking my bag in her purse resting on a shelf, needing to get pick-up requests from those in the line behind me. 

I have seen Kathy several times since. I don’t know her well, but what I do know of her, I know through kindness. She hasn’t said anything about what I gave her, but maybe some gifts are meant to be received in silence. The energy of kindness, thoughtfulness, and gratitude conveyed in tangible ways like cards, flowers, and a small quilt carry what the giver intends. No response necessary. 


{A special note for Jacquie Reed's faithful readers.... Jacquie enjoyed writing as a way to express her insights and share her creativity but also as a way to more deeply connect with the people she held dear. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about the topics in her posts and interacting with her ideas and art while she was living. This post was written and scheduled by Jacquie in the weeks before her unexpected death on November 5, 2021. Her remaining posts will publish every two weeks from now through the end of February 2022. Please feel free to respond with your memories of Jacquie in the comments. May the words she left behind minister to you as you grieve her passing and remember her life. You can find her obituary here.}

1 comment:

  1. Mr. REED I want to Thank You for the message at the end letting us know we can see her writings for a little while longer. Kelton and I miss her dearly our Friday reading of Harry Potter was the best part of our week and He and I have been struggling to complete the book but have promised to do so for Ms. Jacquie as we know she was enjoying the adventure as much as He was....Blessing Katy S.