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Free Daffodil Bulbs

“What are we doing today?”

They wonder, as they wake, what will fill the new day that stretches before them. I had tried to sneak through my farm chores, ignoring yesterday’s stacked dinner plates and the gone-cold coffee cups from the last brew, taking in the freshness of the morning before it took me.

Words come through the clouds on the days that were not supposed to happen. It’s different than I thought it would be.

The road was familiar from years-ago baseball games and our long history of specialist visits at the hospital. A weathered wood sign was posted near the parkway of a house, one in a long, indiscriminate row. Letters painted with a thick brush in dark blue proclaimed a message: “FREE DAFFODIL BULBS.” A hunched, earthy figure whose face eluded me pulled a box near the edge of the road and faded in an instant, back to where he had been. He could have been anyone. On that day, he was compelled to share the wealth of his daffodil bulbs, the promise of golden yellow cheer, with passersby along that busy road. His purpose was clear. He knew exactly what he was doing that day.

When vision and strength seem elusive, when there’s nothing easy, and when the harshest words fly, I think we have to just love them and to hope that for today, that will be enough.

They were tiny, stiff bundles of angst and unrest, but I could hold them and bounce them and strap them to my back as I tended to what was before me. Those were hard days and nights. Now, they’re much bigger. I can no longer carry them or rock them to sleep. I am at their mercy.

Yesterday I decided that I would actually have an answer to their question, just for one day. I took the two youngest boys and their friend for an overnight stay at a hotel with a good pool. They went swimming for long stretches, three times in seventeen hours, ate at a steak house, slept very little, and visited a historical site. The littlest one called me some bad names and did his share of trash-talking at the historical site. I tried to avoid eye contact with the tour guide as we left.

“You know,” she began, as I looked up, sheepishly, “you’re doing good with those boys.”

The tour guide didn’t have to say that, but she did. She made me feel, at least until the next round, that maybe there is a purpose in all of this.

I wonder how many people stopped along that busy road to gather daffodil bulbs for fall planting. I wonder how many people will be reminded of the generosity of a gentleman who has lived nearly a lifetime, whose purpose shone brightly from the heavens on that crisp afternoon, when nature’s rhythm turns to spring once again.

I don’t know what we are doing today, nor do I even wonder. The summer is long. We’re just going to see what our road has to offer, past the arguing and overturned chairs, through the questions and the dirty dishes, with thoughts of the daffodil blooms and the nameless man’s kind offering, because that might just be what we’re here for.

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