Friday, November 21, 2008

Roses in a fruit jar...

Spring had come and with it, the warm days that felt like an early summer. The campus was ablaze with color...beautiful pink and red azaleas, flowering dogwood and fragrant magnolias. Yellow daffodils lined the historical brick streets in the nearby town and all the brick walkways across campus.

Everything on campus seemed in high gear. My weekly routine continued to include 18 hours in class, working 15 hours and trying my best to find time to study. I continued in the BSU choir and kept one mission trip a week in my the nursing home. Trying to find time to even do my laundry was a challenge, and Jimmy continued to make sure that I didn't have any "down" time.

We frequently double-dated with his friend Raleigh and Raleigh's girlfriend. Jimmy was on scholarship and certainly didn't have much money. He was creative and found interesting places to go that didn't cost that the zoo, movies and plays on campus, fishing, flying kites. The photo below was taken at the college swim and picnic day at a large nearby lake in late Spring. It was very warm that day and felt more like summer.
One day after work as I walked into the dorm, the student desk clerk said, "you have flowers". There were a couple of bouquets there - one that closely resembled a funeral arrangement and a beautiful bouquet of wild pink roses. About that time she giggled and said, "yours are the ones in the fruit jar". Thank goodness I thought. They were beautiful...tiny little wild pink roses...dozens of them. I took them to my room and put them on my desk. I was sure they were from Jimmy and certainly meant to thank him as soon as I saw him.

Two or three days passed and each time we were together, I would forget to mention the roses. That Saturday, Jimmy said he had something special to show me. I was swamped with work and needed to spend the day in the library. One look at his face though, and I said yes. He drove to a little lake surrounded by a grove of trees. It seems I remember hiking a long way around the lake to get there and then he said, "look".

There it absolutely enormous wild rose bush covered in hundreds of tiny pink wild roses. I've never seen anything to compare to that bush since that day. I felt two inches tall. I'd forgotten to say thank you, and he had gone to all this effort just for me. I hugged him and thanked him for the roses. I assured him that I had loved them. He said "I thought you hadn't liked them because they were in a fruit jar...that's all I could find". "That was the best part," I said.

I learned a hard lesson that day and one I've remembered all these years - a gift from the heart is not to be taken lightly...especially if they're roses in a fruit jar.

Feeling the wind on the end of a string...

After meeting Jimmy, my life on campus changed. He made sure I was never lonely or bored...not that I had time to be bored. With his energy and pure passion for life, he celebrated everything.

One day, not long after we'd met, Jimmy asked me if I'd ever flown a kite. I had to think for a moment, and then I realized that I'd totally missed that experience in my childhood.

"We'll soon take care of that" he said, and that Saturday morning, he picked me up at the dorm armed with two kites, each with a long tail, and lots of string. It was perfect kite weather...warm with a wonderful breeze. We walked to a large hill behind the campus where he proceeded to attempt to teach me the basics of launching and flying a kite. I'd run as fast as I could and try to get my kite off the ground, and he'd end up laughing at my antics.

Finally, my kite caught an updraft and the wind took it...higher and higher and higher. I felt the strong tug of a kite hundreds of feet in the air and realized what an amazing thing I'd missed as a child.