Thursday, March 18, 2010

In Lieu Of Flowers


When I die, I want FLOWERS! Not just an urn wreath...not just a family spray, I want an obscene amount of flowers...If someone wants to send money to a charity of choice in my name that is ok. I would hope that I had made a positive impact on enough lives that I had lots of friends who would send flowers. If they just pick flowers from their yard or from a field; I would love that just as much...Once, I had two AIDS patients who lived together and died within days of each other...Tim and Jim...They were as we say in the south, Dandies...Always into something and just plain ole trouble…But, you just had to love them..I buried them in a cookie jar thqt was donated by a local potter, in my family cemetery with a do it yourself funeral because I could not get a single preacher who would do a funeral for an AIDS patient... And in one of the most touching moments I have ever seen, a grandmother and her young grandson walked into the cemetery, with a coffee can covered in aluminum foil and filled with flowers of the field..I could imagine both of them carefully and thoughtfully taking the only vessel that they had and covering it with foil...they then walked about a mile by themselves and handpicked flowers...a coffee can full of wildflowers. Every flower picked to show Tim and Jim how much they were loved and would be missed...They said that they sang gospel hymns while picking the flowers...Can you see it in your mind? I can and I hope that you can, too.

While I was living and working in Florida, at one of the Crown Jewel of cemeteries for SCI, Woodlawn Memorial Park, I saw thousands of sprays of flowers...WOW, do they ever know how to knock out fabulous flowers! Everyone ALWAYS asks me why I like working at cemeteries? One of the best things I can say is that I love flowers and get to receive huge bouquets of them several times a day. I get to see them and smell their beautiful scents all day long...I get to see how much people are touched by the sentiment that words cannot express... I have never seen anyone weeping with pride over a piece of paper with a number on it...In Lieu of Flowers is great...I am all for donating to charity...I was Excretive Director of a 501(c)3.. I know how much donations mean, I really do but, I have never seen the thank you phone calls or the thank you notes that I have seen by a single bouquet of flowers…store bought or handpicked!

I always send flowers, not that I am that special, I just love to make people happy. I want people that I love to know how much I love them and how very much I will miss them. I have the best florist in the world, Marie’s Flowers on Albert Pike in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. All I have to do is call them up and tell them what it is for and they magically read the mind of the one I am sending flowers to and when we see the spray it is magically the sentiment that I was hoping it would be. We once had a friend who was a Cheyenne Medicine Man, Al Tallbird and his beautiful wife, Beverly... She called us to her deathbed and asked us to take care of her husband after she was gone and she wished for flowers at her funeral…She wanted everyone to know that she was loved...My sentiment exactly..I called Marie’s and told them who she was and what she was like...We picked up the spray to take to Oklahoma...IT WAS STUNNING!! Autumn flowers with pussywillow and pheasant feathers...whenever I find my box of photos I will post a picture of it….

My childhood friend, Frank Rapley’s father, David Rapley was one of the first Marines to set foot on forgiven soil in WWII…He came home from saving the world to raise a family and lead our community..He loved flowers and always sent flowers to the deceased...I found this out when I called to order flowers for Mr. Rapley... Joanne, at Marie’s Flowers, answered the phone and said that the family was just in and said that he hated In Lieu of Flowers. Joanne and I talked a long time about why people feel the need to say please send money instead of flowers and I told her that I had sat with hundreds of families while planning a service and felt that for whatever reason, people feel guilty about having people making a fuss over them. They have all of these excuses like “the flowers die” ...”it is a waste of money”...I always ask how they would feel if someone sent them flowers on their birthday? They would be thrilled!! I asked them if they had ever been to a wedding where there were not any flowers and they look at me like I am crazy. (I am but, that isn’t the point) Would you expect a bride to not have a bouquet? Don’t you want to catch it?? Of course!!! I tell them that a wedding only lasts an hour and then the marriage might only last a few years...yes, I am a little jaded…Then there is a second marriage...Would there be flowers..Absolutely!! So, why in the world would you not have as many flowers at a funeral as you would a wedding? Think about it, it is the last party and celebration that your loved one will ever attend…I feel that it should be a blow out and a true send off...

When I go to a funeral or memorial Service, I think about, Are the flowers beautiful and have the feel of the soul of the deceased? How about the scripture, will it bless the departed? Is the music foot tapping and does it make you want to sing along in joy and sorrow...can you pour your heart out, too? And I love a good eulogy...I want it to be thought provoking and mindful of the sence of the person that it is intended to honor and I want to cry and then laugh..I want to know that everyone involved had the opportunity to mourn and then honor the wishes of the loved one...and I feel that part of the mourning procces is that we , I, have the opportunity to express my feelings with flowers! If any of you don’t want a beautiful spray of flowers just let me know and I will count out the pennies and write a cold number on a small piece of paper and send it to an unknown address and let a clerk open it and put it in a pile...or I can send flowers? We always take flowers ot the cemetery after the death when we visit..Why? Why do we feel the need to keep flowers on the grave and not at the funeral?


I have given much thought to my funeral and how I can get a lot of flowers and mourners…I am going to have a raffle...for every $10.00 a person spends on Flowers They will get a raffle ticket...we will draw for something every 15 minutes..After a song of my choice...then at the very end...At the cemetery after I am inurned, there will be a drawing for a one week’s vacation anywhere in the world, I have a book to choose the resort from...I think it will work! What do you think?


  1. I'm with you - I want flowers! I love flowers. I've been so happy the past couple of weeks because the flowers are finally coming out. By the way, my current research on my grandmother's Norman family is currently centered around the Hot Springs area; there are a whole bunch of them in Peak Cemetery. Love the stories and pictures in this post.

  2. Ruth, I love your blog and your stories. I am passing along an honor I received today. You can read more about it here:
    Pass it on!!

  3. Loving flowers here in Massachusetts too! Great article!

  4. That was wonderful - the short story of Tim & Jim made me cry! Keep up the good work... but don't feel you have to make me cry. :-)