At my home, computers have almost replaced the need for dictionaries. When I need information about a word, I use my computer's spell-check and thesaurus.
My large Webster's Encyclopedia of Dictionaries has been used little in the past few years. Today, however, I opened this five-pound dictionary. A yellow flower fell from it. As I placed the fragile blossom back on the page, I began to reminisce.
Glenn White came to the Ozark town of Doniphan, Missouri, to practice law. He appeared at our house to rent an office from my father.
"He's cutting hay ten miles west at Briar," Mother told him. "The hay field lays along Highway 160. You can't miss it."
The man's azure blue eyes haunted me as he bid "Good-bye" and left.
About three hours later, as Mother and I sprayed the rose bushes in the front yard, a hot and sweaty Glenn White appeared. In one hand he carried a rusty bucket. In his other hand he gripped a fist full of wilted yellow daisies.
"I've been driving the tractor while the driver helped load hay." He handed Mother a half-filled bucket of blackberries. "Garrett had picked these and told me to give them to Oma."
As he started to leave he turned to me, handed me the wilted daisies and said, "The mower had cut down these yellow flowers. I thought you might like them. I love yellow."
As he walked to his car, he turned and spoke, "I'm heading for St. Louis to see my parents." He waved as he got into his car and said, "I'll see you next week."
I hummed while thinking that Mother and I both had received a gift from our men. But Glenn wasn't my man. I had seen him for the first time a few hours ago.
I put the wild flowers in a vase of water. I appreciated them more than if they had been flowers flown from Hawaii. One bloom had broken off. I laid it on a page in my large Webster's Encyclopedia of Dictionaries. I spread the yellow petals as nature had grown them and closed the book to press the blossom. I placed crushed petals in my potpourri jar.
When Papa came home that night, I causally asked if he had rented the office. Yes, Glenn had rented the office and had paid two months rent. However, he wouldn't move in until the next week. He had gone to the city to meet his parents, as they would be back tomorrow from travels in the Lake of the Ozark area.
Glenn White didn't return to Doniphan the next week, or the next, or the next.
I worried about him. Why didn't he call or come back?
"What a jerk I turned out to be," I told myself. "Why do I let my life be dominated by pining about him? He had just handed me some wilted weeds. Why fret?"
Four weeks later Glenn called Papa. His parents had been in a car wreck the day he left Doniphan. He had been taking care of them, their medical paper work, and the insurance. He had taken a job at a St. Louis law firm while seeing about his parents. Papa said he had given up his law office in our building and had asked my father to rent it to another.
I would never look into those azure blue eyes again. Thinking about it made my stomach drop downward. My spirit was in a cobweb of chaos. Why should I agonize over a memory?
School began. I worked hard to help my third graders improve their reading skills. I had no time for daydreams.
One day in October I came home after a hard day of teaching. Tired. Depressed. My concern at that time was to help my slow pupils become better readers. It wasn't going well.
"Something was delivered for you today," Mother called. "It's in your bedroom."
What could it be? I hadn't ordered anything.
A vase of yellow daisies stood on my dresser. The card read, "I hope these aren't wilted." At the bottom was Glenn's name and his St. Louis address.
That night I called Glenn to thank him for the flowers. We began a weekly exchange of telephone calls. It was five months later before I saw him again.
Two years later Glenn and I were married.
Through the years, Glenn loved to surprise me with flowers, often with expensive arrangements. But in all that time, no flowers ever touched my heart as much as the wilted yellow daisies he gave to me the first day we met.
Pausing in my reminiscing, I closed my dictionary on my pressed "daisy-full-of-memories."
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