Magnolias

My mom forwarded this story to me today, and I just had to share it.

I spent the week before my daughter’s June wedding

running last-minute trips to the caterer, florist,

tuxedo shop, and the church about forty miles away.

As happy as I was that Patsy was marrying a good

Christian young man, I felt laden with

responsibilities as I watched my budget dwindle . .

So many details, so many bills, and so little time.

My son Jack was away at college, but he said

he would be there to walk his younger sister down

the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died

a few years before. He teased Patsy, saying he’d

wanted to give her away since she was about three years old!

To save money, I gathered blossoms from several

friends who had large magnolia trees. Their

luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green eaves

would make beautiful arrangements against the rich

dark wood inside the church.

After the rehearsal dinner the night before the

wedding, we banked the podium area and choir loft

with magnolias. As we left just before midnight, I

felt tired but satisfied this would be the best

wedding any bride had ever had! The music, the

ceremony, the reception – and especially the

flowers – would be remembered for years.

The big day arrived – the busiest day of my life –

and while her bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her

fiancé Tim walked with me to the sanctuary to do a

final check. When we opened the door and felt a

rush of hot air, I almost fainted; and then I saw

them – all the beautiful white flowers were black.

Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night

had knocked out the air conditioning system, and on

that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted and died.

I panicked, knowing I didn’t have time to drive back

to our hometown, gather more flowers, and return in

time for the wedding.

Tim turned to me. ‘Edna, can you get more flowers?

I’ll throw away these dead ones and put fresh

flowers in these arrangements.’

I mumbled, ‘Sure,’ as he be-bopped down the hall to

put on his cuff links.

Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the

dark wooden beams in the arched ceiling. ‘Lord,’ I

prayed, ‘please help me. I don’t know anyone in

this town. Help me find someone willing to give me

flowers – in a hurry!’ I scurried out praying for

four things: the blessing of white magnolias,

courage to find them in an unfamiliar yard, safety

from any dog that may bite my leg, and a nice person

who would not get out a shotgun when I asked to cut

his tree to shreds..

>

As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the

distance. I approached a house…No dog in sight..

knocked on the door and an older man answered. So

far so good. No shotgun. When I stated my plea

the man beamed, ‘I’d be happy to!’

>

He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and

handed them down to me. Minutes later, as I lifted

the last armload into my car trunk, I said, ‘Sir,

you’ve made the mother of a bride happy today.’

No, Ma’am,’ he said. ‘You don’t understand what’s

happening here.’

‘What?’ I asked.

‘You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on

Monday. On Tuesday I received friends at the

funeral home, and on Wednesday . . . He paused. I

saw tears welling up in his eyes. ‘On Wednesday I

buried her.’ He looked away. ‘On Thursday most of

my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on

Friday – yesterday – my children left.’

I nodded.

‘This morning,’ he continued, ‘I was sitting in my

den crying out loud. I miss her so much. For the

last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she

needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I

cried, ‘Who needs an eighty-six-year-old wore-out

man? Nobody!’ I began to cry louder. ‘Nobody needs

me!’ About that time, you knocked, and said,

‘Sir, I need you.’

I stood with my mouth open.

He asked, ‘Are you an angel? The way the light shone

around your head into my dark living room…’

I assured him I was no angel.

He smiled. ‘Do you know what I was thinking when I

handed you those magnolias?’

‘No.’

‘I decided I’m needed. My flowers are needed. Why,

I might have a flower ministry! I could give them

to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home have

no flowers. People need flowers at times like that

and I have lots of them. They’re all over the

backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches –

all sorts of places. You know what I’m going to do?

I’m going to serve the Lord until the day He calls

me home!’

I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On

Patsy’s wedding day, if anyone had asked me to

encourage someone who was hurting, I would have

said, ‘Forget it! It’s my only daughter’s wedding,

for goodness’ sake! There is no way I can minister

to anyone today.’

But God found a way. Through dead flowers.

‘Life is not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s the

way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes

the difference.’

One thought on “Magnolias

  1. What a great story. How many times are we so short sighted and only looking as far as our own universe instead of the truly “BIG” picture.

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