Saturday, February 6, 2010

Freedom of Flight and Sunflowers
























For quite a while I've been meaning to tell a story, a true story, about a little girl who loved sunflowers best of all. I need to tell the story so that I am not the only person who knows it. I think you'll understand that a bit more when I tell the rest of the tale.

Airplanes are funny things. When we are on one, it is best not to think too much about the act of flight. Even if you understand the physics and engineering behind an aircraft, there is something rather magical about a metal tube, moving through the air, carrying us as cargo from one point to another. From the moment we leave the ground, until we touch down again, we have primarily placed our fate in the hands of others, and may they be capable of delivering us safely. There is little we can do to impact the outcome, we are free from responsibility to the determination of whether things will be all right, in the end. It's oddly freeing, our lives are full of responsibilities, our choices have weight. In flight, we are rather weightless, awaiting the outcome.

Fifteen years ago, on a flight to Orlando, with a change over in Dallas, I sat next to a very elderly couple. Like most travelers, I was armed with a book, something to do, something with which to ward off conversations we don't wish to have, if need be. Although I often tell stories of what a flake I can be, the fact of the matter is I'm a rather coolly capable sort of person. Good head in an emergency, and hard to shock. I'm also willing to converse with strangers, because people interest me. Truly, and without pretense, I'm often very interested in the lives of others. I'm not good at surface conversations, but I do love a good long, revealing talk.

I exchanged pleasantries with the couple, and did the polite thing, asked where they were bound, etc. These weren't outwardly happy, outgoing people, but neither were they ill-tempered. The man was farther away, at the window, and seemed absorbed in his own world. His face was dotted with bandaids, it looked as if he'd likely had some patches of skin cancer removed. I don't remember what led up to the moment, not really. I was doing the courteous, interested thing, but I like to hear people's stories, so my interest was real.

"Do you have any children?" I asked, and was told that yes, there was a son. A forty-year-old accountant, in Philly. I've no idea why that sticks in my head, but it does. There was a quality to the silence that followed, something else was there. A feeling of disappointment hung in the air.

I've never been gifted with a poker face. I'm positive that I must have done something at that moment, glanced pointedly, with an air of inquiry; something. Nothing followed though, and I was about to let the conversation drop, about to open my book and insulate us both from the need to continue when the woman next to me cleared her throat slightly:

"I had a daughter," she said tentatively. "I had a daughter too, but she died when she was eight."

I closed the book, half-turned in my seat towards the woman and nodded, "Oh, I'm sorry." I'm sure that in my tone was the expression of empathy. I put the book down on my lap and continued, "What was she like?"

There is something about the freedom of flight. The rules are different in the air. Sometimes we confide in strangers, sometimes was are confided in. For the next hour, this woman, this woman with an odd, wary quality about her at first, but only at first, told me about Sandy. An eight-year-old little girl who died long before I was even born.

She loved Sunflowers and on her last birthday party, her mother sewed her a dress with Sunflowers on the material. Baked her a cake with buttercream icing, and lemonade was made, and enjoyed on a sunny day. Sandy had a kitten she loved tremendously, too and she was a bright spirit. Liked to sing, all the time, her mother told me. She would hear her voice as she did housework, and that was hardest of all after Sandy was gone. The silence where there had once been a voice.

Every now and then, when someone tells you about someone they love, you will see that love so clearly, it is as if you are sharing in it. This woman, who had seemed so guarded at first, a little wary of the much younger woman beside her, dropped all barriers, and the love she felt for her long dead daughter was right there, in the plane with us.

It was a wonderful conversation, full of stories about children's books and favorite dolls. Treasured memories, shared with a stranger. Swing sets, and a garden.

Eventually the plane landed in Dallas, a bit delayed. Over the loud speaker the captain's voice asked that all passengers remain seated, and that people who needed to catch a connecting flight be allowed disembark first. I was one of those passengers. I rose to my feet, and grabbed my bag from the overhead bin, preparing to go. My hand was resting on the back of the seat, and my seat mate stood, and place her hand over mine giving it a squeeze.

"I haven't talked to anyone about my daughter in thirty years," She began, and I was slightly alarmed to see that she had tears in her eyes. "Thank you so much."

I was almost stunned into silence for a moment, because I was absolutely sure she was being literal. I'm positive she had told people in the years prior to that, that she had lost a daughter, but it was very clear, I was the first person she had talked to about her at any length in all that time.

"It was my pleasure, thank you for telling me about her," passengers were beginning to file out, it was time for me to go, "I won't forget her."

I never have. Every time I see a Sunflower, I think of that woman, and I think of Sandy, in her dress, drinking lemonade at the last birthday party she would ever have. Every time I see a Sunflower, Sandy lives in my memory.

As I rushed to catch my plane, I wondered why, why would this woman have told me so fully about her daughter? There is nothing particularly remarkable about me, I possess no secrets to the souls of others. I wield no magic. So why? Why did she tell me? I was honored, please don't get me wrong, I am to this day honored that someone would give me their most precious memory in such a manner, trust me so with something so delicate and fragile for them.

I don't remember who I sat next to on the plane to Orlando. I was still busy wondering but by the time the plane touched down in Florida, I knew.

Ask me how Sandy died, and I will not be able to tell you. I have suspicions, mind you. Her mother talked about Sandy being inside a great deal, not being able to play outside towards the end. If I've got my timelines right, Polio is a very likely suspect.

You see, I never asked how she had died. Or what had happened to her. I asked what she was like. That's what unlocked the memory for that woman, why she took out her most protected memories. By the time I met that woman, her daughter's death was something she had been asked about countless times. She didn't want to talk about how Sandy had died; she wanted to talk about how Sandy had lived.

The rules of flight are different, and perhaps best left unquestioned. I love a little girl named Sandy every time I think of Sunflowers. A stranger, probably no longer with us, shared her with me on a plane, long ago. Not because there is anything special about me, but because she loved her daughter so, and I asked what she was like.

I've always loved Sunflowers since, because they bring a little girl back to life, simply by remembering her.

47 comments:

The Bug said...

What a lovely story. My mother was like that - she just had this aura that said, "Talk to me! Tell me your life story!" Sometimes she would resent it - but I think that she was genuinely interested in people and couldn't shut that aspect of her personality down. I'm not like that - & it makes me a bit sad, actually.

Kathryn said...

Well, i disagree that you are "not special." I doubt many people would have said, "What was she like?" Too many people are uncomfortable when the death of a loved one is mentioned & that tends to silence the one speaking.

I love your story Alane. I love that you let the woman pour her heart out. What a precious gift that must have been for her.

Thank you for your kind heart & thank you for sharing.

Vera said...

Lovely post, and you must have a special gift to be able to pull out of the mother those long supressed memories, and I have no doubt that that lady would have remembered you with fondness for the rest of her days as well.

Shrinky said...

The secret of being a good listener is in instinctively knowing how to ask the right question. I am sure this lady long fondly remembers the girl who sat next to her on that chance meeting. Thank you for making Sandy come alive to us, as her mother did to you - and just as you are, she sounds to have been a joy to have known.

By an odd coincidence, sunflowers are very special to my own Sweet Sam, and I can rarely see one without also smiling.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

OH! Wow.
A few months before we married, me and my fiance flew from Chicago to KC to meet her fam. There was a fellow with the 2 of us in the row flying home to Kansas, an amiable and wonderful and kindly guy, who had lived around the world with the army but liked Kansas best of all, so he had retired there. Anyway, when he heard we had been together a short time etc. he said the thing that is important in a marriage is to always remember why you got together.
That was 18 years ago next month, and Maude and I still use that stranger's quote when we smile at each other "remember why you got together".
:)

Land of shimp said...

The Bug, that's a very nice thing to remember about your mom, that she was genuinely interested. I do understand what you mean, about not having a particular trait, but you see I read your blog, and know you through it, you've many traits all your very own, equally marvelous.

Besides, it's rather nice to have something your remember as being special about your mom, isn't it? My dad and I both have remarkable memories, as does my son. It's a genetic trait. I never saw it as being anything out of the ordinary, I thought everyone had it. I didn't realize that it was his trait, or something he had given to me, until I passed it on to my son.

I'm just saying, it's awfully nice to have something in your memory, something that stands out and I'm sure has a lot of company. The things that make your mom special, and easy to remember for you.

Aw, Kathryn, what an exceptionally kind thing to say, but then you are an exceptionally kind person. Have you ever heard the expression, "You're a good egg, kid." ? Many years ago I knew a grocer, back when there were still some privately owned grocers, and he would tell me, "You're a good egg kid, and a good bagel too." To this day, I don't know what he meant...but i liked it enough that I'm saying it to you, too. Not only are you a good egg? You're a good bagel too.

Oh Vera, I hope she did. Do you know, I've always wondered if perhaps she didn't simply recognize the same trait in me, in terms of seeming a bit guarded at first. I think of myself that way, but told I am not...so who knows. Thank you for your kind words, and I've always been very glad she told me about her daughter.

I know Sandy's name, but I don't remember her mother's. There's a simple reason, the entire time the woman was talking to me, she said her own name once, and her daughter's many times.

Shrinky, I honestly think absolutely wonderful people love Sunflowers. They are so open, and friendly as flowers. Impossible to miss. The flower of an extrovert. Thank you for tell me that, by the way. It added yet another nice layer to that story for me.

Gary, I like him already! Traveled around the world, and like Kansas best? There's something wonderful in that. A man who knew his own mind, and didn't worry about what others thought. "Been to Paris, Berlin, and Tokyo and I'll tell you what...it's Topeka for me." Honestly, that's wonderful.

What great advice he gave you and your now-wife, and what a fun way to have your own special thing between you. That made me smile. It's great to have our couples language, isn't it?

My husband has a friend who met her husband in college. This woman had been my husband's friend all through high school. The "thing" that they have between them? That thing that reminds them why they got together in the first place?

"I love you more than beer."

That's what they say to each other, and I can hardly ever remember that without cracking up.

Nicole said...

Beautiful! I am trying to imprint that in my mind so I will remember to ask "what was she like?" That is a much better question.
Sometimes we get caught off guard and we don't know the correct way to respond. I want to be the kind of person that asks the right question.

Cabo said...

That was simply Grand. Absolutely Grand.

You're Golden. :)

Pauline said...

"She didn't want to talk about how Sandy had died; she wanted to talk about how Sandy had lived."

A beautifully told story by an obviously perceptive woman.

Cricket said...

Dear Lord... I wasn't ready for that first thing on a Sunday morning. A wonderful story and brilliantly written.

Eschatology is not my area of expertise, but I do believe that stories like this have something to do with the idea of eternal life: the way a soul continues to influence the world, her mother's world, yours, now mine. And likely anyone who reads your post.

You have preserved something very important and done it so beautifully. I was going to read some more posts. I think I'll go hug my children instead.

Hilary said...

Just beautiful, Shimp. You've helped to keep this child's memory alive. And sunflowers a special reminder of holding life dear.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5056727
SHIMP! There are a few things at my etsy page, but most of the time people see me blog an item and ask to buy it or something like it but in a different color etc, through email
garyrith at yahoo dot com
Thanks a million!!!!!!!
more at my web site www.garyrith.com

Land of shimp said...

Thank you, Nicole. I think it's a good question for a less-than-recent loss, you know? There comes a point in grief where people have primarily coped with the actual loss, and the kindest thing we can do is to allow them to share the memories they treasure, rather than memories that hurt. Or something, I don't really know, I'm just guessing.

But often when we ask, "How did so-and-so leave you?" we forget that we're essentially asking about the worst days in a person's memory. Asking what someone is like allows someone to revisit their best days. The memories that remain after the hurt isn't quite so fresh.

I know she went out of her way to let me know that, essentially, we'd had a conversation that had made her happy rather than sad. I'm pretty sure if there is anything important to be gleaned from my experience, it centers in that.

Thank you, Cabo and back at you :-)

Pauline, that means a great deal to me, thank you.

Cricket, I have only a glancing knowledge with the theory to which you refer, I have always sound it to be a compelling one.

There's something there, isn't there? I felt tasked with something important at the end of that plane ride, and it feels exterior to me, if that makes sense. What I know is that particular memory has an exceptionally vivid quality to it. It really exists with tremendous clarity, in a way that stands out for me.

I was going to visit a friend in Orlando, and we had a great time together. Laughed like lunatics, we goofy, silly, etc. But the memories of that fun time are slightly different, just a general sense of merriment, and when I remember them? Yeah, good times.

The memory of the plane ride almost doesn't feel like it belongs to me. It almost feels like a baton I was passed. That it won't stop feeling like that until I have, in my own turn, passed it on also.

Or perhaps what I'm really saying is that I had a conversation, and to me i thought of it as being ...if not commonplace, at least not extraordinary. Then the person with whom I had that conversation told me otherwise, and it is a responsibility. There is something there. Something in understanding that a person went out of her way to let me know, "What just happened here? Was important to me."

And it's an act of trust, from more than one angle. Something to treat with respect.

Or something, dunno. It's Sunday morning here too, and perhaps I've just had a bit too much coffee.

Hilary, thank you. I never gave much thought to Sunflowers before that plane ride. I never really thought about "Do I like these? Or don't I?" because ...Sunflowers sort of blare. Big, friendly, completely impossible to miss. I tend to appreciate a more nuanced form of floral beauty. It's strange though, that impossible to miss quality does make them perfect for remembrance, really.

Anyway, I've loved Sunflowers ever since.

Land of shimp said...

Thank you, Gary :-) I appreciate the link, and look forward to perusing. I wasn't sure what the etiquette of pottery inquiry was.

Cool, and thanks!

Debbie said...

What a wonderful gift you gave to the woman, and what a wonderful memory you now share with her.

Cricket said...

I think your analogies are entirely accurate. This is more than just a memory; you have been charged with a responsibility.

It is possible you are the only one remaining on Earth who can preserve something of the essence of this little girl - something that made her life beautiful, something that transcends even death. Something eternal. Something Divine.

I am certain that none of us who have read this will ever look at a sunflower the same way again.

Suldog said...

This is one of the nicest blog entries I've ever read. I can't quite put my finger on the why of it - obviously, the beauty of your open nature has much to do with it - but it thrilled me to read it. It really did.

I have a link on my sidebar, way down under all of the links to other bloggers, to a funeral oration given for a little girl named "Treasure", who died when she was very young. Your story puts me in mind of that. I think you might enjoy visiting that website and reading the oration. Look for "Treasure", when you have a few moments.

(Oh, by the way, I came upon the oration because I was searching the internet for an image to go with one of my posts. I found one of Treasure's crayon drawings and thought it fit perfectly. I wrote to ask permission to use it, and was told of her death, then directed to the oration website. I was so moved by it, I linked it, long ago. I think you're the first person I've specifically suggested go read it.)

Miss Footloose said...

It was the perfect question: "What was she like?" I'll remember that.

I spend much times on planes and sometimes you do hear stories you wouldn't hear other times. We are so busy and always on the go so sitting on a plane for hours sometimes gives us an opportunity to connect with people we otherwise would not spend time with.

A wonderful story, shimp.

Jo said...

Alane, what a beautiful story! I have been away from blogging for a few days, and I see you have done a few wonderful posts.

I love the idea that Sandy's memory lives on in you. I would like to bet that Sandy's mother never forgot you, either. You were probably the first person who ever asked what her daughter was like -- rather than how she died. You were more interested in who she was, and how she lived, and for a little while that brought her daughter back to life for her. How wonderful...!

Someone please hand me a Kleenex...

Miss OverThinker said...

You definitely strike as a person someone can pour their heart out too.. I haven't even met you but you already know so much about me, more than almost everyone who reads my blog..and I am sure a lot of your fellow bloggers will say that about you.. you just are the kind of person that people probably want to share their stories with - perhaps can be burdening for you sometimes?

As for asking that lady about her daughter - that really is a very rare thing for people to ask. I lost my dad, and every single person I used to tell that to asked me how he died. And I absolutely HATE that question - I don't want to be reminded of my dad when he was sick. I want to remember him when he was alive and well and full of life and love. But not ONE person has ever asked me what was he like.. so now when I talk about my family, I always say my parents, as opposed to my dad, in order to avoid asking the question that everyone asks..

Look at that, I just found myself telling you this story about my dad - that's how good you are Alane:) An absolutely beautiful post. Thanks for sharing the story. Now we all know a little bit about Sandy..

ethelmaepotter! said...

Let me dry my eyes...
I was falling asleep as I clicked your link in my blog browsing, intending to give this post a quick glance. But you caught my attention right away, and half way through, I found myself fully awake and teary, and I scrolled back to the top and began rereading, slowly, savoring, my heart heavy for this woman and the child she had ached for all those years.
We never know how one simple act of kindness may affect another life; how one unselfish hour spent listening to a mother's love story may bring her happiness and relief for days, weeks, months, perhaps even years to come. Because you loaned your eyes and ears to this lady for the cost of a flight to Dallas, I'm sure she was able to go satisfied and with memories of the loveliest of details of her daughter's brief years on this earth.
You have proven that angels DO have wings, after all.

http://ethelmaepotterweneverforgother.blogspot.com/

Robin said...

What a sweet story! You have a gift for story telling.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and the nice comments! I appreciate your feedback!

Robin

Land of shimp said...

Hello Debbie, thank you for stopping by. That's it exactly, by the way. It was a moment where two people became connected. I'm sure it happens all the time.

It's funny, I think her husband must have been just a little hard of hearing. The first thing that caught my attention was they were discussing tea together. They had their own teabags with them. I know, goofy detail to remember about anyone but she asked him for some tea, he reached into their carrying case, and produced a teabag:

"No, the other one."

"This one?" (little too loudly, again, suggesting he didn't have the greatest hearing)

"The other one!"

The most commonplace of exchanges, but it really caught my attention. Just that evidence of people with their personal shorthand, a long life lived together, etc. People who brought their own tea while traveling, who were used to doing for each other, in this almost grumpy, well worn way. I'm really not describing this well, but it was thoroughly charming.

A younger couple would make a bigger show of being kind to each other, I think. They just were their own little unit. One carried the tea, the other asked for it, without names. Limited number of teas in their personal universe.

Love does manifest in this huge variety of ways, doesn't it?

Anyway, thank you for the comment :-)

Cricket, thank you. There really is something in the connections we form, that aren't "for" anything, you know? It isn't a work related "networking" . Things like that happen. We just let people in sometimes. Sometimes we're let in, and I do think there's importance in that.

Sol, as soon as I'm done here I will go and look at Treasure's oration. Thank you so much for telling me about it. I'm very glad you enjoyed the post. It's difficult to convey how much that memory means to me. Someone let me into what was, for them, a sacred ground. That has the potential to sound so very sappy, but...well, what I'm trying to say is that the reaction of everyone here has meant a great deal to me. I could go on, but I'll leave it at that. Thank you all for being so kind to the memory of a little girl, who is rather alive to me, even though I never met her. Sounds like Treasure is the same sort of situation for you.

Land of shimp said...

Miss Footloose, you just made me think of something. Something that's never quite occurred to me before. That we lost something when long train rides became a thing of the past. It's a rarer opportunity now to connect with someone while traveling, but some of my favorite stories from history...and I mean non-fiction stories...have been of people meeting as they crossed the sea together, or rode trains across the country together. We've sort of condensed our opportunities to connect, but sometimes we still do.

Jo, it's always, always good to see you :-) Such a nice lift to the day, "Oh, a comment from Jo!" I would think Sandy's mother did remember me, or at least the conversation. That's one of the things I didn't really touch upon, how sad I felt that circumstances hadn't quite aligned in the right way for this woman prior to that. Don't mistake me, I was exceptionally pleased that they did...but what a sad thought. I love my own son so dearly, I can't imagine not speaking at length about him. However, very clearly, it was a case of memories that played frequently in her head. She was just able to let them out at that time.

I can't even say that I normally would say, "Oh, what was he/she like?" It was just what came out of my mouth, because ...clearly, it was something in the past, and...I got lucky, really. I know you lost your husband, Jo. I know how he died, and I remember reading how you walked in the rain. I hope someday you tell us what he was like. No pressure, of course. I've thought of that when reading that you had lost him. I ended up thinking that just to get through, to carry and do what needed to be done, those must have been almost unsafe memories to revisit. But I've wondered about that, and if you ever want to open that memory box, I am absolutely positive that many people would be so honored and privileged, as well as interested. Just letting you know, if there ever comes a day when you want to talk about what he was like? I'll honestly care very much.

Land of shimp said...

MOT, I guess people do easily tell me things, come to think of it. I'm glad they do, it's a privilege, truly.

You know, I don't have a standard question I ask...it just felt right in the moment, and I suspect it is because of the same reasons you have. My dad died, and I know how truly people are trying to express how much they care when they ask, "Oh, what happened?" I get that, I do. Communication is an imperfect art form, I think. When someone asks, "Oh what happened?" what they are really expressing is an offer to share something with you. It's the exact same impulse, you know?

I do really understand what you mean. My husband lost his father about seven years ago, and it was a car accident. For the first couple of years, his family talked a lot about that day, the shock of it. Then it became sharing memories, "Oh Jerry would..." "My dad would..."

Grief, the quality of memory, and the things we treasure, they are all a process. People ask, "Oh what happened?" simply because they don't know where someone is in that process, I guess.

The only reason I understood that wasn't the best question to ask, "How did she die?" was that this woman was probably fifty years older than I was, and talking about a long ago loss.

You know what I think the truth of the matter is? I think we all try, and sometimes we get lucky and say the right thing, at other times we don't. The impulse to try is the same one though, I think. I am sorry you lost your dad, and it's okay to talk about when he was with you, whenever you like, to whomever you like. Even if someone words the question in a different way, it can be a case of, "Oh, an illness..." and then just talk about whatever part of him you would like to share, because that's really what all of those questions translate into, you know? "I'm here if you'd like to share with me." is the offer, regardless of the phrasing of the question, I think.

Oh Ethel, I'm sorry! I know you struggle to sleep, and I did wince that you were sleepy, then made not sleepy! I hope when you did get to sleep, you slept wonderfully. Thank you for telling me that though, thank you for feeling, and caring. I do appreciate that. I owe you one drowsy, ready for sleep moment, though.

The next time I'm about to nod off at night, I promise, I'll try to push that towards you!

Land of shimp said...

Missed one!

It was my pleasure, Robin. The pictures of your dog were lovely, in either black and white, or color...but such a beautiful chocolate lab, I'm glad I got to see Jazz's color, too.

Thank you, by the way, I appreciate the comment.

gaelikaa said...

Bless you, you did exactly the right thing! You provided a listening ear and she was free to talk. And do you know what? I wouldn't have asked either how she died. If the mother had wanted to, she'd have told you so. But she wanted to remember her daughter.

This post brought tears to my eyes. I have a lovely little girl just that age. It's such a magical time in life.

Wherever Sandy is now, I am sure she is smiling....

LadyFi said...

This moved me to tears! So poetic, so lovely - such a treasured memory.

You are special because you were the only one to ask: What was she like? How did she live?

Nessa said...

Wonderful story and you make a good point - we should be more concerned with the person, the parts that make them special and unique to us.

Dam

Bachelor said...

Wow! a very nice post: A tribute to Sandy. Its amazing how we feel we don't do too much at times; but, you did a beautiful thing by lending a listening ear. And from that, you were award too: A memory of sunflowers. I hope you have a wonderful day. It snowed last night here in Indiana. Best! :)
The Bach

Cricket said...

A beautiful and deserving potw mention, if I do say so myself... oh, wait. ;-)

Land of shimp said...

Hello, gaelikaa (I like your screenname, by the way, it sounds absolutely magical). Thank you, and I'm so glad to know that you would have asked the same question. It felt and still feels like the right thing to have done, particularly when it comes to the loss of a child.

At the time my son was very little, only four and that was a big part of why I was quite happy to sit there talking about a child for most of a flight. Thank you again for stopping by, and truly, I really do appreciate it.

LadyFi, I'm sorry I made you leak at the eyes, unless it was a pleasant sort of cry...if you know what I mean (and I'll bet that you do). I got lucky, didn't I? It really was an honor, and remains one of the best conversations I've ever had. A little bit like time traveling in flight, oh how vivid that woman's memories were of Sandy. Such a privilege to behold, and share in. Thanks for the kind words!

Nessa, whenever I see your name I always end up smiling. I'm not sure why, I just think its an awfully neat name to go by. I understand it is likely a shortening of the name Vanessa, but it always makes me think "Nessa, Queen of the Mists" (long story that, I'll spare you, but I thought you might like to know that is what your name makes me think of...hopefully it will make you feel regal...and possibly misty ;-) ).

Thank you for the kind words, both here and at Hilary's.

Hello Bachelor, I hope you are pleasantly snowed in, feeling snug and warm. I do think it is amazing that sometimes we believe we are doing something rather small, and find out it is something larger. Makes me wonder about all the times we don't find out about the scope of our actions, and words within the lives of others. Thank you for the comment, I appreciate them greatly.

Cricket, I'm likely to end running all over the internet saying exactly the same thing in different ways, and I plan to pop over to your blog in a moment here: I can't even tell you how very much it meant to me to be recommended by you. It was a lovely feeling to click on Hilary's blog and see my name, a moment of "Oh, that's so kind..." but when I saw your name, I teared up just a bit, in a good way.

We'd had such a lovely exchange about souls, I thought, something that truly meant a lot to me. Then you just added to that by indicating it meant something to you too.

Just that lovely feeling of connection with those around us, in a deeper way, on this, a rather frosty February morning. Not to be sappy, but ...and this may not make any sense...it gave the world a lovely, expansive, and caring glow for me this morning.

Thank you.

blunoz said...

What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing this. It was certainly deserving of Post of the Week!

ds said...

I love sunflowers, too, but will never see them in the same way. Sandy--and you--will always be part of them. Such a beautiful post, Alane, and so deserving of Post of the Week. Thank you.

Suldog said...

Just back to offer my congratulations on the well-deserved POTW mention!

Nancy said...

What a sweet story. Clearly you have a special way with people - maybe because you have an ability to just listen? A gift, surely.

Now when I see a sunflower, I will think of Sandy. She lives on in our hearts and minds.

Congrats on POTW mention! Highly deserved.

SandyCarlson said...

That's an incredible story. Thank you.

Derik said...

You told this story well, but got a bit mushy at the end, right at the end there. But the way this story is bared out, I just feel that you told this story well, that maybe this isn't perhaps probably the first time that you could have maybe told this story.

It seems like.

Land of shimp said...

Thank you very much, blunoz, and thank you for the comment.

ds, thank you, and thank you for being willing to remember Sandy. That was the entire point of telling the story :-) I'm very grateful.

Thank you again, Sol. You've got a neat friend, in Cricket, by the way. Makes a lot of sense, seeing as you're neat yourself :-) Say hi to YOUR WIFE (which tickled me so, I must repeat it).

Nancy, thank you so much, and it means a tremendous amount to me that you'll remember Sandy too. Really, that's why I told the story, in the hopes that other people would see a Sunflower and think about a little girl, who meant the world to someone. Just as we have people who mean the world to us.

Thank you for commenting, Sandy, I really appreciate it, and am so glad you enjoyed it.

Well, Derik, first off...it isn't the first time I have told that story to anyone, I did tell my husband and a good friend long before this. It's the only time I've written it up. Sorry you felt it was "mushy" -- which, that's your right to feel and I won't dispute :-)

Good to see you, and you take care.

JoMo said...

Wow. Lovely story. Think how your listening & genuine interest must have helped heal that woman's heart. Kindness.
Cheers,
Jo

A Woman said...

What a remarkable story. I think that sunflowers will not only remind me of Sandy in your story, but of the kindness one human can show another. Congratulations on your Post of the Week from Hilary, it is well deserved.

A Woman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian Miller said...

what a wonderful tale. i will remember in the sunflowers...

Merlin said...

You have an amazing way with words... It is an amazing story... always a pleasure to stop by your blog...
Reminds me about how less people talk on the plane in the western world!

Kyle said...

Alane, you really are very special. I think breathing life into echoes of someone's soul is a pretty magical talent.

In those thirty years you are probably the only person who really wanted to know about Sandy. I'm sure many people asked about children and maybe even asked how Sandy died, but you really wanted to know who that little girl was. Because of that, for that plane trip, her mom got to let the parts of Sandy that are in her out for a breath of fresh air. Now parts of Sandy live in you, and in turn pieces exists in all of us that read your blog. The three Rs. Remember, Reclaim, Reincarnate.

Pseudo said...

I followed this link from the Sunday Roast. It is an amazing post, one that makes me want to walk away from the computer for a few hours so that I can savor it.

So glad to run into you out here.

Rose said...

When I saw the link to your site on Blogs of Note, I was intrigued by the title, and I have spent the last few hours reading through your posts as I worked. You have a very compelling writing style, and I have enjoyed all your quirky anecdotes quite a lot. But it wasn't until I reached this post that I felt the need to comment.

As a socially challenged individual, I do not often engage in conversation with strangers, but I, too, have experienced these altered rules of flight. I love these moments, probably because I am not a big believer in luck or chance.

Thank you for taking it upon yourself to share this "true story about a girl who loved sunflowers." There was something truly moving and lovely about the whole tale. It didn't need embellishment, or justification. It is a simple memory, associated with an equally beautiful thing.

I've always loved sunflowers, and now I love them even more.