One wintry day, long ago, I had the privilege of visiting with a woman I’ll call Rose. Ninety-five years old, she was recovering from a broken hip at the home of her daughter, a good friend of mine.
What emerged from our conversation was a song called “Flower Lady.” Below you can read the lyrics. You may also listen to a very amateur recording I just made of the song for your enjoyment. (Emphasis on “amateur.”) To this day, it remains one of my heart’s favorites among the many songs I’ve written.
(Oh, and in case you wonder, I’m very happy to tell you that Rose did live to raise more flowers.)
The flower lady breaks her hip in March.
She is 95 years old.
She’s wintering through it at her daughter’s house,
snow drifting high outside the window.
Like a bulb in frozen ground
she rests in silence, saying nothing at all,
storing up what’s needed for the thaw.
Then she says to me …
I’ve got an old iris I especially like
back home in my yard;
had her 75 long years at least.
She smells like grapes, to me.
Whenever we moved, she’d come along,
like family, only easier:
I didn’t have to guard against her being eaten.
I didn’t have to beg the world to let her be.
I didn’t have to pray to heaven for her life—
she was a little bit of heaven, here with me.
Dee dum dee do
Dee dot-um dee dah dah dee dee
“My, that must be a lot of work,” they’d say,
seeing you on your knees pulling weeds.
And you would smile as they passed you by—
they didn’t understand:
You just wanted to be where the growing things are.
You just wanted to be where love’s the only thing that blooms.
So now you tell me you will not live
if you cannot raise another flower;
that you will just curl up and die—
and I know it’s true.
But that old iris remembers the touch of you,
and she will rise again for love of you—
And so I do believe, my friend,
springtime will come again,
for you …
Dee dum dee dah
Dee dum dah dee
Photo by Dorothea Bartek on Unsplash