39: Petunia

39: Petunia

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven


Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall. Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.

~Author Unknown

Every year, my partner Mel and I plant flowers in our yard to honor our deceased loved ones. A few years ago, we couldn’t get around to it. The reasons were many that year, including me getting laid off and Mel being injured at work.

One day, we rushed out of the house to Mel’s physical therapy. On the way to the car, Mel paused and smiled. “Hey honey, look.” He pointed to a flowerpot near our front gate. “Your mom says, ‘hello.’ ”

I looked at the flowerpot, and my jaw dropped. A single, white petunia grew among the many weeds. It should’ve been choked out, but it flourished anyway. Because petunias are annuals, there was no explanation for the single flower. It had to be a miracle.

Warmth flooded through me, and tears filled my eyes.

Every year, Mel and I planted petunias in a variety of vibrant colors in different pots around the yard, but never white ones. The flowers honored my mom, who had always called me “Tunie.” When I was a little girl, she’d chase me through the house, saying, “Kissy, kissy, Tunie.” I’d giggle as she scooped me up into her arms, kissing me. Our ritual ended when I became a teenager and too big to be called such a childish name. When my mom died ten days after my nineteenth birthday, that declaration didn’t matter as much. I missed being called Tunie. Since my nickname was short for petunia, we declared it my mom’s memorial flower in our yard.

Staring at the single, white flower, I knew my mom was letting me know she was still there for me. Nothing could keep her away from me, not even death. Suddenly, all the trials life threw at us weren’t as bad as I had thought.

That single flower reminded us to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life, not get caught up in the temporary, short-term trials.

As I cried, Mel placed his hand on my shoulder. “She must have known we needed her,” Mel said. He caressed me as he spoke.

I nodded and said, “Thank you, Mom.”

~Ellen Tevault

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