Fishing Families and Flowers Don’t Always Mix

My doorbell rang at 8:30 this morning.

I was snuggled in my bed when I heard it.  Normally, I would have been up and about getting the recycling and garbage ready to go outside, preparing Eva’s lunch for pre-school (and an identical lunch for Vincent to take to Jazzercise), finishing up the laundry and making all the beds.

As you know, though, we just returned from vacation and we are still catching up on rest. So I was still in bed at 8:30 when someone rang the doorbell.

“How annoying!” I thought. “Who is coming to visit us at 8:30 on a rainy, yucky, dreary Friday morning?”

“Mommy!” Eva yelled down the hallway to my room. “A lady is here! And she has flowers!”

“Oh, how sweet!”  I thought next.  “One of our neighbors has brought us flowers for May Day!”

Then I remembered it was April 1, not May 1.

I froze. My mind raced. Why is someone at my door with flowers so early? What’s going on? What happened? What happened that I don’t know about? Is it George? Dad?

Extreme thoughts to be sure. But that is what happens when over a decade ago, vans and flower deliveries arrive unexpectedly and incessantly at your family’s front door, sent by friends and family  in sympathy when your sister’s husband is lost at sea during a crab season. (You can read a bit about that here.)

Here’s a little more of what I’ve written about that experience:

“Within an hour of receiving the news, the first bouquet of flowers arrived at our front door, sent by the wife of a longtime fisherman friend. It was at once beautiful and terrible. Word spread quickly along the West Coast and Alaska about the tragedy and I dreaded the white delivery vans that pulled continuously into our driveway. With each well-meaning bouquet received, our grief pierced deeper and deeper and stabbed more and more.”

To be perfectly honest, most of my family has an aversion to bouquets of flowers because they remind us of that  terrible and nightmarish time. So after my brother-in-law’s father died recently, I did not send flowers. I brought over a card, mini-hamburgers, and a chocolate cake.

Anyway, the doorbell rings again. My mind races.  Eva isn’t sure who it is but guesses it could be “our neighbor” or “Anthony’s grandmother” and that she’s brought the most beautiful flowers Eva has ever seen. I tell Eva to come into my bedroom and wait. She promptly begins crying and covers her eyes with her little fists.

“That woman walked back down the stairs with her flowers,” she cried. “She feels sad that we didn’t want them.”

By this time, I’d figured out exactly who was at my door. I’ve been visited lately by a few regular religious proselytizers. I did talk to them one time months back and it was fine, but then they kept coming back. I can’t blame them. Faith is an exciting thing and I would love to share mine too and have everyone else be excited about it. I’d love to share my faith, Jazzercise, books, music, and everything else I love.

But I don’t want flowers (why on earth would they bring them?). I don’t want my bell to ring early and startle my family. I don’t want my daughter to cry and my mind to race in terror of what those flowers might mean. Fishing families are on edge all the time; I don’t want or need anything else to add to it.


  1. Oh God you brought back a flood of memories. We had our first son the day before our boat capsized and we lost my dad in law. Jeff wasn’t on the boat that day because he was supposed to pick us up at the hospital. He never made it as he was down stairs in the emergency room with his mom, his sister, his brother (who was on the boat and hurt), his best friend (who was taking Jeff’s place on the boat so he could be a new dad.) We had flowers and baby gifts arriving at the same time. Cards that were sympathy and congratulations…..someday I’ll write a story about it.

    Hugs Lori

    • Oh man. There are no words. I can’t even imagine. A capsized boat, a death, and a birth. Sympathy and congratulations all at once. I don’t know how anyone withstands. Write, write!

  2. Here in the south we always bring food for both occasions, sympathy and congratulations.Flowers are ok but I would rather have a good ole sourcream poundcake or chocolate anytime to cheer me up.

    • Ha! Yes, the food usually arrives after the initial shot of flowers and it’s so welcome! I’m with you. I’d take most anything over a condolence bouquet. When my brother in law passed away, one of my best friends went and chose some very sweet little gifts for each of us. That was a unique idea and a nice diversion (thank you, Beth!). Of course now that I’ve written this, if God forbid anything does happen, nobody will dare send me flowers. I’ll have a line up of cakes on my doorstep! :)

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