When I was a very little girl, my father's family would all gather at my great-grandmother's house for Sunday dinner after church every week. She lived down a mile-long dirt lane surrounded by acres of land and after dessert, I loved nothing more than to go for a walk and explore with my daddy. In the spring, whenever the fields at Grandma Sally's would fill with golden sprigs, he would pick one and ask 'Do you like butter? Let's check to see'' and as the flower cast a yellow glow onto my chin, he would pronounce once again that yes, I liked butter. I would eagerly snatch it from his hand and after doing the same, confidently announce that he liked butter, too. Even with the 'butter' association, I somehow got it into my head that these flowers were called 'petercups' instead of buttercups. He seemed to find this hilarious and quite charming so long after I knew their proper name, I would chirp 'Petercups!' when he asked me what they were, just to watch his eyes crinkle with an adoring smile and feel the chuckle on his breath as he held the bloom under my chin. As I grew, we no longer played the butter game but instead made a game of who would find the first buttercup of the season to give to one another. Once I became a teenager and could no longer be bothered with such things, he would still present me with a bouquet of buttercups each spring.
My daddy left this world on May 20, 2007. Driving down the long country road to the cemetery in his funeral procession, I stared out the window in a teary fog, watching the green fields roll by. As the church came into view, I tried to focus my gaze onto anything but the blue tent and folding chairs that had been erected amongst the rows of headstones. And there, in the embankment across the church, grew a patch of buttercups. There, and only there, until weeks later did I see my harbingers of spring. My heart leapt with joy and plummeted into my stomach just as quickly while I choked back a sob. As I stepped out of the car and made my way to the place where my mother and sisters awaited me, I reminded my husband of the story of my 'petercups' and nodded after he asked if I wanted him to bring some to me. I sat through the graveside service with tissues and buttercups clutched in my hands. As we all made our way to the casket where my father lay to stand in his presence one last time, I gently placed my unassuming, tiny yellow flowers near the large spray of vibrant red roses and said to my sister, 'He gave me my very first buttercup and I just gave him his last.' With those words, we clung to each other and sobbed, because she knew just what that meant. Something seemingly so insignificant'a weed'was the most profound and precious thing in the world to me in that moment. That little flower, to both my father and I, represented pure love and being so made it the perfect way to say goodbye. Even now, when I think of that day I do not recall the people there or the words spoken but I remember instead our last buttercups.
On a day in April, just a few days before my father's birthday, I was strolling through my backyard with my husband and daughters and staring out at the expanse of green grass that is peppered with the yellow blooms of dandelions. For no apparent reason, I paused and looked down at my feet and spotted a lone, golden flower. It was my first buttercup of the season and the only one in my entire yard. I know this because I have been awaiting their arrival with a mixture of dread and delight and as such, have been scanning my yard since the official beginning of spring. I kneeled down to the ground to reverently pluck the stem and whisper a prayer of thanks and love. As I did so, I noticed that the stem was unusually thick and strong with downy fur covering it and the leaves at the base looked like no other buttercup plant I have ever seen. I know that there are hundreds of species of Ranunculus and of course, that's why this one seemed so odd because I am simply unfamiliar with it. But as I held my 'petercup' between my fingers, I couldn't help but feel that my daddy had just given me the first buttercup of spring.
Submitted by Anonymous
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