In a Christmas parcel from Gramma were 5 little cups containing soil and sunflower seeds, one for each child. The children waited until the snow had almost melted before I would let them push their seeds into the soft soil. Those little plants received far too much water, and yet they dared to arch up out of the earth to greet the sun.
William was not yet two, but he knew which plant was his and he was so very proud of it. I let him carry it around the house and sometimes he would just sit on the steps and look at it. I knew it’s chances of survival were slim, that the love of a toddler was just too much for the average plant to bear. He even got grumpy and threw that little sunflower on the floor a couple times, but still, it kept growing. I’m sure that most mothers are sensible enough to not allow a 1 year old to carry a plant around the house, but it made me smile to see how special it was to him.
Amazingly, the sunflower survived long enough to be planted in a row beside the other sunflowers. We started with Myra’s and planted them all in order from the oldest child’s all the way down to little William’s at the end. William knew which flower belonged to him. He would say, “Mine,” and give it an endearing little shake whenever he went past it. I was sure he was going to break the stem one day and just hoped that he didn’t damage any of the other children’s flowers while he was at it, but no, the stem grew thick and strong.
One day we noticed a flower head beginning to form. We would hold William up so he could see it closely. The flower bud was still tight, but we could see the tiniest bit of yellow peaking from inside. That sunflower, William’s sunflower opened long before anyone else’s and we all delighted in his joy.