Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Father Loved Orchids

The morning of April 15th was very strange and I will never forget it.

The most anticipated plant sale of the season, Hortlandia, began that morning. I had been looking forward to it for weeks, even planning a vacation to New Orleans and a trip to Wisconsin to see family around it.

While I was getting dressed, only one arm through my shirt, I received a call from my step-mother. My father had taken a turn for the worse and she needed me to say goodbye to dad over speakerphone.

She wasn't sure how long dad would hang on and there was no way I could make it home in time. I was flying there in just a few days.

Hopefully he heard me say "I love you and you have my permission to go."

My heart wrenched.

The hospice nurse was on her way. Mom would call me as soon as she knew something more.

What do we do?!?

Alan and I were scheduled to pick up a friend to go to the sale.

There was nothing to do but wait for the call.

We got in the car, picked up my coworker and went to the Expo.

I had mixed emotions entering the great hall.

I grabbed a box and dived into the plant mayhem, hoping to take my mind of something happening 1,500 miles away. 

I picked up my first plant, a Cypripedium. I've always wanted one, but they are so expensive, I always tell myself no.

My phone rang. It was mom...

I handed my box to Alan.

Dad was gone...


I teared up and then tried to hold my shit together while Alan and Anita shielded me from the crowd. 

It's hard to plant shop through tears.

I went back to the table with the Cypripediums and picked up another.

My father loved orchids.

He would want me to have two.

Love you dad!

Thanks dad for teaching me how to vegetable garden and for appreciating every single orchid I ever gave you, as very special gift. No matter how small or how weird.


Dad, Me, Mom and Little Brother.



  1. Matthew, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad's passing. It's so hard when something like that happens so far away and you can't be there. I'm sure he knew you loved him. It sounds like he loved plants just like you do. Hugs!

  2. Oh Matthew. As I think I said somewhere else I so wanted to hug you right there in line at the plant sale. Your body language said you knew that but didn't want me too. I would have became a crying mess had I, so probably better for both of us that I didn't. I can't imagine what a surreal experience being there was for you. I'm glad you grabbed the orchid, two of them even. So sorry.

  3. Matthew, I'm so sorry. I can't imagine what that must have been like.

  4. Oh Matthew, I'm so sorry...I wondered if something was wrong when we talked...you didn't seem yourself :-( It's good to have positive reminders like the orchids...it helps.

  5. I'm so sorry Matthew. Your dad must have been a very special man to have created such a spectacular son. My heart goes out to you and your family as you work through this time. The orchids will be a beautiful reminder of your father's love for them and you. Hugs.

  6. What a touching story of your day, Matthew. Beautifully said.
    My heartfelt condolences.