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Davis Journal

Getting and giving

May 23, 2024 10:18AM ● By Louise R. Shaw

She waved me down with such enthusiasm that I had to stop.

I had been driving through a cute little oceanside town, wandering the streets, exploring the parks and now, trying to find a spot to park to access the beach.

It was after I turned down a little side street toward the coast that the woman’s wave stopped me.

“Would you like these daffodils?” she said with a generous smile, holding out a full bouquet of the spring flowers. “We are leaving today and I can’t take them with me.”

“I would love them,” I answered. “I’m leaving tomorrow, but I’ll love them all day and then find someone to enjoy them tomorrow.”

“Wonderful,” she said, handing them through the window and rushing off. “Enjoy them today!” 

And her smile became mine.

I tucked the bundle, which she had wrapped in wet paper towels and plastic wrap, into the cup-holder of the car and every time I got in or out of the car that day, I smiled again.

And then I took them home, where I kept smiling.

Because more than the beauty of the flowers, which are so amazingly colorful and so strikingly delicate, and more than the goodness of the woman, who took the time to wrap the flowers and walk them down the street until she found someone to share them with, there was the thought that maybe my random driving and wandering and turning wasn’t so random after all. Maybe someone helped me get to that spot at that time.

Which made my spirit smile.

It’s just not every day you end up in the right place with the right people to get a meaningful gift from a stranger. In fact, that may be my only day ever.

Except for last week when I was standing at an intersection waiting for the light to change and a young woman in a car driving by yelled out the window at me – “You are beautiful.” 

That was a meaningful gift. 

Not that I believed her. I believed she maybe was just driving around saying that to everyone, but it was a gift just the same.

Strangers can make a difference. Kind words, kind actions – you don’t have to know the person to brighten their days. Or the reverse.

We all know the dark mood that descends when someone honks at us. Or someone criticizes something we hold dear. Or invades our space or hurts our feelings however unintentionally. 

Even when we don’t know them and won’t see them ever again, we can be affected by the way they react to us.

So it was all the more sweet to be looking at that bunch of daffodils and thinking about the kindness of the woman I don’t – and won’t – know, and the random actions that brought us together.

And then the next day, when it was time to head out to catch my flight, I wrapped the stems in a wet paper towel and tucked them inside a plastic bag and drove around until I could find someone who might accept a bunch of still-beautiful flowers.

And as sweet as it is to get flowers, it is sweet to give them.

The smile returned.

Louise R. Shaw is a writer and photographer whose work was featured at the Lamplight Gallery. She is an avid traveler and currently lives with her husband in St. George.