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It’s too late to send me flowers when I’m already gone


An elderly couple

This is a true story but the names of the people have been changed.

By the time I met them, both Jack and Alice were in their senior years. Originally from Chicago, Jack was a retired high school counselor and Alice still taught voice lessons in their home. Jack was short, bald and a bit rotund; he had an amazing mind and a great sense of humor. Alice was petite, had wavy white hair, and had a pleasant smile for everyone.

They lived in a huge Victorian home on one of the premier streets of Charlottesville. All the rooms in the massive first floor had very high ceilings. Jack had built bookcases in every single room except the kitchen and bathrooms. He was a book and theater memorabilia collector. The bookshelves were two and three deep with books of every description, all catalogued by subject. He had all kinds of theater programs, newspaper articles about performances, and photographs of actors.

Jack and Alice traveled to England many times during their marriage. Jack’s primary purpose was to attend theater performances and to buy books. He always insisted that they stay in the least expensive accommodations possible and scrimp on meals in order to use most of their available funds on his hobbies.

Eventually Jack died. He left Alice with his massive collections. She sold huge categories of his books and scores of theater memorabilia books to university libraries and discerning collectors. She also sold many of their valuable antiques and moved into a tiny cottage for a while.

Soon she traveled alone to Paris, the vacation Jack and she had always planned for “some day.”

Sadly, Alice spent most of her time in Paris crying in her luxurious hotel room because Jack and she had never made the trip to Paris together. She was miserable without him but was furious at him for never taking her to Paris as they had long planned. The wealth she had after Jack’s death could never make up for the loneliness she felt without him.
How many people spend their lives working for “tomorrow” when it’s today that each of us has with no guarantees that the tomorrow we envision will ever come?

The point is that people are more important than things. If you choose your selfish desires over the people you love, you may wake up alone, or they may have to go on without you.

One of the early country songs that the Carters—A.P. (Alvin Pleasant), Sara and Maybelle—recorded is called “Give Me the Roses While I Live.” The lyrics admonish the listener to send flowers to your loved ones while they live since “useless are flowers that you give after the soul is gone.”

Another couple I knew scrimped and saved thousands of dollars to leave to their only son. He died in a car accident when he was about 35. The parents were, of course, devastated; they lived only their lives without ever enjoying their money. Most of their time was spent pulling out weeds from their lawn.

The point is that you have only one life to live. Where your treasure is may not be the best place to store up your wealth. Giving the person you love even one rose is better than denying that life will ever be over.

Enjoy the day and make each one as special as you can.

About Sue Freeman Culverhouse





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