Every now and then in our job as a florist, I come across a person in some way or another that has a big impact on me.
Just over a year ago now, I had a few orders to deliver one Monday afternoon in October. I was running a bit late doing the deliveries because we had had a busy day, and got to my final address in Glebe just before 5pm.
I had written the card for the recipient *Maggie earlier that afternoon, and although I knew the flowers were for a lady called Maggie's 98th birthday, I didn't think much of it to be honest. Although I did remember that the lady who ordered the flowers asked me to write the card in size 20 font. So I hand-wrote the card as neatly as possible.
Anyway, at about 4.45pm, I got to Maggie's little house. The door was shut, and there was a birthday gift in a bag hanging on the door. I knocked on the door, and after a while I thought Maggie must not be home, which is why the gift was hanging on the door.
Just before I turned to leave, I saw a light switch on through the door, and heard a shuffle and a soft, happy voice say "coming!!" I then remembered that the flowers were for a 98th birthday, and whoever Maggie was, she probably wasn't too light on her feet!
As soon as Maggie opened the door, and I saw the bright twinkle in her eyes, I got a big smile on my face, and was reminded why I love my job. Thinking I was in a rush to leave, Maggie asked me to leave her vase of flowers on the ground until she found a spot for them. But one look at little Maggie and despite the obvious wit and life in her eyes, I was worried about her carrying the big vase of flowers her friends had ordered for her down the hall and the stairs into her living room, so I offered to take them in for her and set them down.
She gladly accepted the help, and as she followed me down the hall into her living room, she said with more excitement than I'd heard in anyone's voice for a while "I'm 98 today!" Her excitement was so infectious I nearly burst with it myself!
When we got to Maggie's living room, I was a bit concerned about where I was going to put these flowers. There was not a single space in that little living room amongst the books, vases of dried flowers from previous birthdays, newspapers and notepads. But I guess anyone who has lived a good 98 years, would be lucky to have so many layers of life around them.
Anyway, we did find a spot, and Maggie looked at them, and said "my eyesight is terrible, but I can see those flannel flowers, they are my favourite!!" I offered to read her the card and she gladly told me who all the people were who ordered the flowers for her, including the cat!
I could have stayed for an hour to chat to Maggie, but I thought I should leave her to her phone conversation, which I forgot to mention, was still going the whole time I was there, and whoever she was talking to was also getting a running commentary on what was going on.
So I left Maggie to it, and as I drove off, the last 5 minutes started sinking in, and I stopped my van and texted the lady who ordered the flowers for Maggie. She had never ordered flowers from me before, so it seemed so fortuitous that she chose me to order the flowers from for her friend's birthday. I wanted to tell her that I had delivered the flowers, but also how honoured I was to meet Maggie.
It turned out Maggie was a very special lady to a lot of people, and had made a huge impact to the lives of many. I was not surprised.
The thing was, on that day, Maggie had an especially big impact on my life. Having recently been through some significant health issues, I had been starting to wonder, and worry, about how the rest of my life would play out.
Meeting Maggie on that day couldn't have come at a better time. She made me want to live to 98, and beyond, and experience so much more that life has to offer, be around people, and hopefully also make a difference to other people's lives. And she gave me the hope and inspiration to do that.
I was so excited to get another order to deliver to Maggie last week for her 99th birthday, with a special request for the card to be written in 28 size font.
I couldn't wait to get another dose of her infectious zest for life. Again, I took her flowers in for her, and read her card, and again she told me about her friends, including the cat. She told me she loved flannel flowers, and that she and her friend are collecting seeds from the flowers to grow them themselves. And I told her that I'm very much looking forward to delivering flowers to her again for her 100th birthday next year, and to see the flannel flowers that she's grown.
(*I have changed her name to protect her privacy)