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May Flowers: Picking Weeds

I was 6 years old, visiting my grandmother one May weekend. In her garden, tulips were fading, roses were full of promise, and anemones were swaying in their glory. But I was entranced by the tiny yellow flowers that grew all over the front yard. Unaware that they were weeds, I gathered a luscious bouquet of dandelions for Grandma and proudly marched into the house.

Aunt Jennie, Grandma’s unmarried sister who lived with her, saw me first. Childless, Aunt Jennie lacked for macaroni necklaces, finger-painted portraits and lopsided Play-Doh figurines, but she never tired of prepping her nieces and nephews for special occasions, from the Easter bunny’s visit to recital bows and curtsies. She specialized in big hugs and kisses.

Aunt Jennie sat in her armchair reading a magazine, a cup of tea by her side. With a flourish I thrust the bouquet of weeds at her. “Look at what I picked!” I shouted excitedly. Aunt Jennie’s hand fluttered to her chest. “For me?” she exclaimed. “They are beautiful. Thank you so very much. I’ll get a special vase to put them in.”

I blanched, I’m sure, but there was no way I could tell Aunt Jennie that the flowers were meant for someone else. Her eyes shone as she ran to show my grandmother. I followed, afraid Grandma might be hurt by my betrayal. I found Grandma with her arm around Aunt Jennie, who was wiping her eyes with the back of her hand. Grandma nodded at me with approval for the kindness that I had unintentionally spread. I learned that day how simple, thoughtful deeds can turn winter into spring and weeds into vibrant May flowers.

Donna L. Gestri is a reader from Sayville, N.Y.

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