Health & Wellbeing > The Flower Guy

The Flower Guy

By GREG MAFFETT
Published: May 9, 2010

The Flower Guy There is a knock at the door. A young man in his 20’s opens the door and sees a man. Where the man’s head would normally be there is pot with some yellow flowers. It is something like a Magrite painting. One of those paintings I hate probably because it is art with an idea behind it. I prefer my art less calculated, thank you. If I want calculated, all I need is a mirror. “oh, it’s a flower guy” the young man says as he takes the flowers and turns to set them down. He closes the door. I open the door and walk in. “hey the flower guy is coming in!” the lady in the easy chair says “huh?” Then the young guy sees its me. “oh its you” The lady in the chair is puzzled for a few seconds. She was this way a few years ago when I visited her after her bypass surgery. I’d heard things were slipping, so I stood there a few seconds. Then “OH ITS YOU!” She started giggling and kicking her feet under the blanket she had over her legs. I could imagine her kicking her legs like that six decades ago on a bright summer day at the end of a school year. Or maybe five decades ago when she met my father after he came back from the war. Then I figured out the real reason she was kicking, she was trying to get the footrest on the easy chair down and it wasn’t cooperating. She got it puzzled out and sat up. She has full time oxygen now, there are 30 or 40 feet of cord looped beside her chair. She is facing pulmonary failure. But today she is breathing. And she is in a new apartment. It is much nicer than the old place she was in. I’m pleased to see that. I ask about the bathroom and she points me in the right direction. I get back and she is on her cell phone “Guess who is here? You’ll never guess! Greggy is here!” She hangs up and tells me that is her sister and they talk every day. I never remember her calling me Greggy before, the only person I remember calling me that was my grandfather and he’s been gone for, wow, almost 20 years now. The young man in his 20’s is one of her grandchildren. He lives at home with his mom and the lady in the chair. I’m puzzled by his life. Every life has a purpose, I know that, but I’m often ignorant of just what it is. I just don’t get this guy. There are two dogs in the house, one a very expensive, very high strung dog. The other is a football with legs. When we were trying to keep the lady in her other apartment, the dogs were the issue. The apartment manager wanted her out and used the dogs to expedite her exit. But we were trying to use the companion dog argument to save the day. It didn’t work, but like I said, this is a better place. The dogs do bark a bit, so you can see where that could be causing trouble with the neighbors. The lady gives me an ad from a local paper about some electronic device called bark off. She has tried to order it using the phone number. But no luck. She gives me the number and card. I see the company onlt takes credit cards and she has handed me a debit card. I remember the problems in the past and I don’t ask if she has a credit card. I pull out mine and use that. This is a weird phone ordering system. They make the first sale and then spend 20 minutes offering you stuff you don’t want. I’d never do business with these people myself. But if you are in your mid 70’s and have time on your hands and like to listen to offers…well they found their demographic with the lady in the chair. She offers me some pizza and soda and I accept. I had only planned to stay until 5 PM. I arrived at 2 after driving a couple three hours to get there. But I was doing ok and thought I could stay longer so I did. The high strung dog stopped by for some petting. “You are my life saving dog aren’t you! Yes you are!” I know, I’m out of touch. To me this dog was just an indulgence. A pure bred dog that cost huge dollars that were I in her situation, I would not have bought. But she does unusual things that tend to work out. She was lucky enough to go in for cataract surgery and the doctor found out about her heart problem and that ended up saving her life. Now somehow this extravagance of a dog has done the same. She doesn’t think like me. But she is genius in her way. IQ, she is a three sigma event with good verbal skills. I’m a four sigma event with good math skills. When I say I don’t crack the top five in my family in terms of writers, she is one of the reasons why. Eventually, she has to go to the bathroom. Now the young man’s purpose becomes clear. He gets her up, takes her hand, gets her to the bathroom. Afterwards, he cleans up a few problems. Ok, I get his purpose. Without him and the dogs, I don’t know how she would get along. The young mans mother is en route. I hang a round a while but I figure 630 is my cutoff if I’m going to get back to my hotel, get a few hours sleep and then get a flight back home the next morning. As I get up to leave she says “You can stay here tonight” I hadn’t really thought of that, but even if I accepted it would be a 2 am wake up to drive to the hotel, pack, get to the airport and catch my flight. I think about stuff like this and then I give her a hug and leave. I don’t wait around for my sister to get back. I’m sure she plays just as vital a role in keeping things running smoothly there. I was afraid to come visit. Nearly everything I do is rational. I’ve been tested and it turns out I don’t have hardly any morals on which to base decisions. The only area where I appear human is when it comes to family. It is the only time I do things that don’t have a sound mathematical return on investment behind them. And here I was doing one of the odd things. And as long as I was being irrational, well, might as well keep running. See the day after a visit to my Dadat about this age, he died. I can’t rationally say my visit killed him. But I’ve been avoiding Mom in part to not go down this same road. I know it makes no sense. So I waited for two days after the visit before I wrote this, just to be sure that I wasn’t going to be playing the role of the angel of death in this story. So that is it. I just left. I left with a very solid understanding of the role of everyone in that house that day. Everyone except the flower guy.

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