Having worked in a nursing home, I tend to often write about my residents. About who they were to me and what they taught me. Ethel was a frail, tall woman with fading eyesight but a bright smile. She was in the early stages of Alzheimer's at the time, so often her actions were confusing to me, but nevertheless she always did whatever she was doing with purpose. A purpose that I at the time did not understand, but now I do.
"What are you doing, dear?"
Her whispy hair cascaded down in snow-white ringlets framing her delicate face, beneath those tresses she calmly looked up at me with her wrinkled fingers tightly wond around the green handle of the watering can. "Watering the flowers," she said without the slightest hesitation.
A slight giggle escaped from my lips as I watched water droplets settle upon the plastic red petals. "Sweetheart, you do know those aren't alive," gesturing towards table 15's centerpiece.
Her eyes glistened like the night sky as she whispered in my ear, "Just because something isn't living anymore, doesn't mean you should stop caring for them."
And just like that, I was swept into memories of those I lost and deeply regretful of the loved ones that I don't tend to as graciously as this dear woman does to those plants. Never have I questioned her since, still filling up the base of the plastic vases with water for those pretty red plastic posies.