Lilacs with Love


Jessie stopped at a flower shop on her way home from school and asked the price of a dozen long-stemmed roses—the kind Dad had always given Mom on special occasions before he died. Jessie looked at the two dollars and seventy-three cents in her coin purse. She couldn’t even afford the sweetheart roses that the florist suggested as a less expensive alternative. Mother’s Day was only three days away, and there was no way that Jessie could earn enough money before Sunday to buy the flowers that she hoped would make her mother smile again.

As Jessie walked home from the florist’s, she passed the site of a new housing development. But even all the fascinating construction equipment couldn’t get her mind off the flowers. Then she noticed that near the foundation of what had once been a house were a number of lilac bushes about to fall victim to a hungry bulldozer parked nearby.

A few years before, Jessie had mowed a neighbor’s lawn in exchange for a bouquet of lilacs. Jessie had given the flowers to her mom. What was it Mom had said? Then Jessie remembered: “Heaven must smell like this. I wish we had a lilac bush of our own.” That was it! She could give Mom something that she had always wanted, it wouldn’t cost a cent, and a lilac bush would last lots longer than cut flowers.

Jessie hurried home and returned with some small garden tools for digging up the bush. When she got back to the housing development, she began searching for a healthy, sturdy bush that wasn’t too large to move. Finding one, Jessie worked until her hands ached and started to blister and sweat poured down her face. But the ground was too hard.

In desperation she hurried home and came back with a quickly scribbled note: “Please save this lilac bush. I want to transplant it for my mother.” Feeling helpless, she stuck the note onto one of the bush’s branches, then headed for home.

After school the next day, Jessie raced to the construction site. She stared delightedly at what she saw. Although the bulldozer had leveled the remainder of the land, her chosen bush stood unharmed. As Jessie let out a whoop of joy, two workmen came up. “You must be the one who wrote the note. We saw how hard you had tried to dig around the bush, so we loosened the ground around it a bit and left it for you.”

Jessie thanked the workmen, then ran home and returned with a wagon and a spade. This time the broken ground easily yielded the bush. She pulled it home in the wagon, wet it down with the hose, and hid it behind the garage.

Late Saturday night Jessie planted the bush in the backyard. Later, when Mother was fixing breakfast before church, she happened to glance out the window. Then she looked again.

“Where did that lilac bush come from?”

When Jessie had finished telling her mother how she had gotten the bush, Mother smiled and said, “Thank you, Jessie. If you had spent a fortune, you couldn’t have given me anything that would have pleased me more.”

“I just hope that it will grow—that I planted it right,” Jessie said.

Mother put her arms around Jessie and, still smiling, said, “Don’t worry. You planted it just right. Long after you’ve grown up and left home, I’ll see that lilac bush whenever I look out the window and I’ll remember that you planted it with love.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Robyn S. Officer