Gifts of the Heart: Stories that Celebrate Life's Defining Moments

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From the author of Values from the Heartland comes a new collection of stories that celebrate the heart's ability to open through love. The message in this passionate book couldn't be more timely--it appears at a time of sweeping change, shifting mores, and the dissonance of global clashes. Written for readers of all ages, the stories here show how human hearts gain a deeper understanding, appreciation and acceptance of life.
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Overview

From the author of Values from the Heartland comes a new collection of stories that celebrate the heart's ability to open through love. The message in this passionate book couldn't be more timely--it appears at a time of sweeping change, shifting mores, and the dissonance of global clashes. Written for readers of all ages, the stories here show how human hearts gain a deeper understanding, appreciation and acceptance of life.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781558744196
  • Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/1/1996
  • Pages: 280

Read an Excerpt

About That Flower
You will find as you look back upon your life,
that the moments that stand out, the moments you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.

&#151Henry Drummond

She always wore a flower in her hair. Always. Mostly I thought it looked strange. A flower in midday? To work? To professional meetings?

She was an aspiring graphic designer in the large, busy office where I worked. Every day she sailed into the office with its ultramodern crisp decor wearing a flower in her shoulder-length hair. Usually color-coordinated with her otherwise suitable attire, the flower bloomed as a small parasol of vivid color, opened on a large backdrop of dark brunette waves. There were times, like at the company Christmas party, where the flower added a touch of festivity and seemed appropriate. At work, however, it just seemed out of place.

Some of the more ôprofessionally mindedö women in the office were practically indignant about it. They thought someone ought to take her aside and inform her of the ôrulesö for being ôtaken seriouslyö in the business world. Others among us, myself included, thought it just an odd quirk and privately referred to her as ôflower-powerö or ôgirl-flower.ö

ôHas æflower-powerÆ completed the preliminary design on the new brochure?ö one of us would ask the other with a lopsided smile.

ôOf course. It turned out great&#151her work has really blossomed,ö might be the reply. Housed in patronizing smiles of shared amusement, our mockery seemed innocent to us.

To my knowledge no one questioned the young woman as to why a flower accompanied her to work each day. In fact, we probably would have been more inclined to question her had she shown up witout it.

One day she did. When she delivered a project to my office, I queried her about the missing flower. ôI noticed there is no flower in your hair today,ö I said casually. ôIÆm so used to seeing you wear one that it almost seems as if something is missing.ö

ôOh, yes,ö she replied quietly, in a rather somber tone. This was a departure from her usual bright and perky personality. A pregnant pause followed, prompting me to ask, ôAre you okay?ö Though I was hoping for a ôYes, IÆm fineö response, intuitively I knew I had treaded on something bigger than a missing flower.

ôOh,ö she said softly, with an expression encumbered with recollection and sorrow. ôToday is the anniversary of my motherÆs death. I miss her so much. I guess IÆm a bit blue.ö

ôI understand,ö I said, feeling compassion for her but not wanting to wade into her emotional waters. ôIÆm sure itÆs very difficult for you to talk about,ö I continued, the business part of me hoping that she would agree. My heart, however, truly understood that there was more.

ôNo. ItÆs okay, really. I know that IÆm extraordinarily sensitive today. This is a day of mourning, I suppose. You see, my mother knew that she was losing her life to cancer. Eventually, she died. I was 15 at the time. We were very close. She was so loving, so giving. Because she knew she was dying she prerecorded individual birthday messages. I was to watch one every year on my birthday, from age 16 until I reached 25. Today is my 25th birthday, and this morning I watched the video she prepared for this day. I guess IÆm still digesting it . . . and so wishing my mother was alive.ö

ôMy heart goes out to you,ö I said.

ôThank you for your kindness,ö she said smiling sadly. ôOh, and the missing flower you asked about? When I was a little girl, my mother often put flowers in my hair. One day when she was in the hospital, I took her this beautiful rose from her garden. As I held it up to her so she could smell it, she took the lovely flower from me, pulled me close to her and, stroking my hair and brushing it away from my face&#151in the exact manner she did when I was a little girl&#151she placed the flower in my hair, just as she had done so many times . . .ö She paused and, as tears clouded her eyes, added sadly, ôMom died later that day. IÆve worn a flower in my hair since&#151it made me feel as though she were with me, if only in spirit.ö

To keep from crying aloud, she sighed deeply before continuing. ôToday, as I watched the video designed for me on this birthday, my mother said she was sorry for not being able to be there for me as I grew up. She said she hoped she had been a good parent and asked for a sign that I was becoming æself-sufficient.Æ ThatÆs the way my mother thought&#151the way she talked.ö She looked at me, smiling fondly at the memory.

ôWhat a very loving and touching living memory,ö I said sincerely.

ôYes,ö she agreed nodding her head. ôSo I thought, a sign, what could I do to communicate that I had learned to be self-reliant? It seemed it was the flower that had to go. But IÆll miss it and what it represents.ö

As if momentarily transported to a memory that held much strength and dignity, her melancholy eyes transformed into a gaze that was both serene and brave. ôI am so lucky to have her . . .ö she said. Her eyes met mine again. Intuitively trusting what she saw there, she pressed a tissue softly against her eyes and unapologetically allowed herself to shed her sadness with tears.

Her strength refortified, she said, ôI donÆt need to wear a flower to be reminded of these things. I really do know that. The flower was just an outward sign of my treasured memories. Mom left a legacy rich in love and it will take more than an absent flower to dim its presence. Time can never take away her gift of love&#151nor diminish the manner in which she shared it.ö Her voice trailed off again before finally saying, ôStill, I will miss it . . .ö

She sighed a deep breath and, changing emotional gears, shifted from her private self into her professional self. Assertively she said, ôOh, hereÆs the project. I hope it meets with your approval.ö She handed me the neatly prepared folder, signed with a hand-drawn flower&#151her signature trademark&#151below her name.

When I was young girl, my mother used the phrase, ôNever judge another person until youÆve walked a mile in her shoes.ö I thought about all the times I was insensitive to this young woman with the flower in her hair. I was disappointed in myself that I had done this in the absence of information, not knowing the young womanÆs fate and the cross that was hers to bear. That day I knew that the flower this young woman wore in her hair was symbolic of her outpouring of love&#151a way for her to stay connected to the mother she had lost.

I looked over the project she had completed and felt honored that it had been treated by one with such depth and capacity for feeling . . . of being. It was with respect and esteem that I now saw clearly the enormity of her ability to bring the past into the future, integrating it as a way to give meaning to the present.

No wonder her work was consistently excellent. She lived in her heart daily.

And caused me to revisit mine.

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