When I was young, my grandmother had a giant gardenia bush growing outside her front door. It was thriving with what seemed like thousands of honey sweet blossoms. Giant, white, spiraling petals, polka-dotted around the bright, shiny, green leaves. This was one of my favorite things about her house, along with the avocado tree in the backyard.

When I slept at her house on school nights, she would prepare these velvet whites in damp tissue and "tin foil" for me to give to my teachers, which at the time annoyed me because I was afraid other kids would give me the "teacher's pet" runaround. And each time she would try to pin one behind my ear, unsuccessfully, and couldn't understand why I wouldn't agree to adorn myself with the white gem. So she would giggle agreeably with me and then drive me to the bus stop in her giant yellow Lincoln and wait with me there until the bus came. The joy aroused by all of those blossom offerings is immeasurable... for the teachers as well as for me.

My grandmother, "Nana," was nurturing, thoughtful, appreciative and enjoyed sharing with others. I'm so grateful for those mornings when I felt seen and cared for and accepted and see now that I learned a lot from her in terms of caring for myself and others. I love everything about gardenias. Today I remembered, by the mere longing and remembrance of that intimately-known scent, that this is why.


Richmond, VA

Sunae HarketComment