Dear Claudia and Steven Zebell. I know Claudia knew that flowers are not allowed at the Pete Gross House. She and Steven sent flowers anyway. Monica, the house manager called one day. "There is a box of flowers here for you but they can't come in." It was enough Claudia. I didn't even have to open the cardboard. Even though they wouldn't let me hold the cardboard. I stood looking at the cardboard and it was enough that you sent the box. I am blessed and joyed knowing your gift. I received your gift from afar, like being at the zoo looking through bars but your gift's strength and beauty was not muted.
Monica said "I'll take care of them." I asked her to please set the flowers outside. When I came home from the clinic that day she had unpacked the flowers and put the base on the only outside table at the Pete Gross House --a table in the smoking area behind a waist-high fence. My flowers couldn't be in a smoking area. I sat for a long time on the bench by the front door wondering where else the flowers could go so that no one would trip, no one would bother and everyone could see. The ledge? No, the vase could fall and smash. By the newspaper machine was no good. The one delivering the papers might not see the vase sitting on the ground, could kick it by mistake. The flowers might spill. The vase couldn't sit on top of the paper rack. The rack was jiggly. I kept exploring and reasoning the entry options. Then I saw it. By the front arch, a concrete corner makes a perfect two-sided triangle of protection. I transferred the vase from the smoking area table to the concrete entry corner, careful to hold at the base and not touch leaves or petals. It wasn't enough. I went upstairs and got our side walk chalk. Bone marrow transplant patient becomes graffiti artist by drawing a heart, printing "gift of love from Michigan," and writing Claudia and Steven Zebell on the wall. Every day I enjoyed the salmon, pink and yellow roses. I watched people admiring the flowers. I watered the flowers. After about ten days, the roses were spent. A volunteer accepted the vase and said she would compost the rest. My chalk writing and drawing on the concrete wall is still there. Before I leave, I'll take a wet sponge and clear the site enough. I still smell the roses.
5 months ago