I stood at the flower shop on Benson Street with a smile on my face. “I need a nice bunch of flowers for my mother; and besides the fact that she loves flowers, today is her birthday.”
“You lucky man,” the flower seller, a woman in her thirties, said also with a smile. “This bunch of flowers your mother will love.”
I said, “You started this business not too long ago?”
“Yes,” she said, “about two years ago.”
“How well is it going for you?”
“Pretty much,” she replied, “I did not realize that people here love flowers.”
“How easy is it to be in such a business?”
She kept the smile in place and swept her head back, rolled her eyes, turned to look at me and said, “As I said I’ve been in this business for the last two years and my patrons have been people who love to remember their loved ones, including parents.”
“You get customers from all over the country?”
“Not all over,” she said, sitting down behind the counter, “There are people here who love flowers and want them on various occasions.”
“Quite right,” I said. “I need flowers for an occasion like this, when it is that of my mother’s.”
I could not hide my appreciation for the woman’s remarkable interest in her flowers.
“My family loves flowers,” I told her, “and my mother’s birthday is today. You have a service to send the flowers to wherever you are asked?”
“Yes,” she said, and her sweet smile raced across my face.
“I want you to send the flowers to my mother.”
“Where does your mother live?”
“Tubmanburg,” I said, “the address is easy to find.”
Still keeping her smile in place, she said, “I know Tubmanburg, a small town. I have a business contact there and we can deliver your purchase to her.”
“It’s about eight fifteen,” I glanced at my wristwatch.
She said, “Yes, the flowers can be delivered at 2 p.m. today. She will be contacted on her cellphone once the flowers are in Tubmanburg.”
“That’s wonderful,” I said.
While the discussion went on, I noticed a young boy with a blue shirt and in black trousers standing further away from me, watching me. I became curious when I saw that he had tears in his eyes. I could not figure out what was happening to him and was inclined to find out.
So when I concluded the arrangement for the flowers to be sent to my mother, I walked to the boy and inquired from him the reason for the tears.
“Today is my mother’s birthday,” he said, “and the woman,” he pointed his right hand to the woman in the flower Shop, “said the flowers cost L$1,000. And I’m just seven.
“She would not accept my twenty dollars.” I looked directly in his face, with personal sympathy and told him, “Ok, friend, no need to shed tears I can help you with this.”
I took him to the flower shop.
“Give this boy the flowers he needs for his mother,” I told the woman, “and I’m going to pay for it.”
She said, “Yeah, he’s been here the last couple of minutes but I told him the money he has could not purchase any bunch of flowers.
“But since you said so, ok I will let him have what he wants.”
The boy looked at me with a grin and lowered his head lifting his right hand to wipe away tears that had formed there.
A few minutes later, the woman handed the little boy a bunch of neatly organized flowers.
As soon as the boy received them, he began to run to the opposite direction without even saying a word to me. I regarded him with some further curiosity and smiled, remembering when I was his age.
Several seconds later, I felt someone pulling at my clothes, and when I turned around, it was the same boy.
“’Thank you, mister,” he said with a smile, “for the flowers.” I nodded in anticipation, saying, “No problem, son, have a nice day.”
He smiled and ran off. I could not understand the little boy’s interest in flowers, but that the day was his mother’s birthday got me thinking about my mother. I could also not figure out the boy’s need for flowers for his mother. To my knowledge, it was not common for kids to show an exceptional interest in their parent’s birthdays. It was a thought I could not get out of my mind. But in these days of the Ebola virus disease that resulted in many deaths, I could agree that even a child could show gratitude towards his mother. Times were changing, I thought. Meanwhile, I felt a sense of admiration for the little boy and I wished I had known him a little better to know the kind of mother he had. In any case, he was gone and that was it.
The Monrovia weather was getting hotter, now that we were in the dry season. In the wake of the declining Ebola infections, people’s confidence was creeping back into their lives. The sun was early and hitting gradually hard and many people were surprised at its early appearance.
Thirty minutes later, I made my way towards Slipway, just across from the Gabriel Tucker Bridge. The hot weather was losing its power due to the Mesurado River’s proximity to my location. The river flowed silently into the Atlantic Ocean. The sudden change of weather gave me some courage that nature had its own way of bringing reassurance that all was not lost despite man’s efforts to ruin the environment. I began to think about nature’s provision for our existence and wondered how wonderful things happen to bring changes to the environment for our own good.
I was in such deep thought when I was suddenly attracted to the location where a small figure sat before an old cemetery that I thought had been abandoned many years ago.
What also got me interested was the blue shirt, for it was clear that it was the little boy I had encountered nearly thirty minutes ago. The boy knelt before what seemed me to be a recently constructed grave in an old cemetery. The boy sat beside a fresh bunch of flowers inserted in front of that particular grave.
“What is he doing there?” I asked myself. My curiosity got the best of me and therefore I chose to find out what he was doing alone beside the grave. I descended the steps leading to the cemetery and strolled towards him.
Closer, scattered graves came into view and I realized that the most recent graves could be any of the people who might have died, not necessarily from the Ebola virus disease, but from other natural causes that were interred there. But for a seven-year-old boy to be here alone was a mystery that gained my attention, particularly so since I had encountered him earlier.
The echoes of my footsteps drew the boy’s attention. He turned around slowly, and realizing who it was, said, “This is where my mother lives,” as he pointed to the grave he sat in front of, “and she is very grateful for the wonderful flowers.”
Suddenly, a lump gathered in my throat, as I was overwhelmed by emotions. I could not get over the demonstration of gratitude and love that this little boy had shown by example to celebrate his dead mother’s birthday.
Without saying a word, I began to walk away from him, and my destination was of course to the flower shop. I arrived at the shop a few minutes later and met with the beautiful lady who had assisted me earlier.
“Have you sent the flowers?”
“Not yet,” she said, “they are about to leave the office.”
“I will take them with me,” I said, “so that I can personally deliver them to my mother.”
She wanted to know why the sudden change of mind, but I was not prepared to go into the details. I felt some guilt about it somehow, especially when I compared it with the little boy’s life lesson that I had just received. The little man taught me a great deal about a child’s love for his mother, even if she was no longer alive. Some questions began to come to my mind, including how many of those whose parents are living really appreciate them?
There are some friends that I know who care little about their parents. The little boy’s instructive lesson left a huge mark on me, and I have not been the same since.