It was 1944. There he was again, her handsome beau; all decked out, standing at her front door with a small white box in his hand. Soon, he would tenderly pin the simple corsage to her collar. He knocked tentatively, barely able to constrain his anticipation. They’d been seeing each other for three weeks and yet he seemed to grow more interested and more sentimental, with each meeting.
She told herself to stop peeking from behind the drapes and open the door for the dashing, young man. After all, there was no need to make him squirm. They both knew, instinctively, that there would be many evenings, many shared adventures and many gardenias, in the coming years.
It’s 2018. Their firstborn daughter, now a grandmother of five, spritzes the buds and foliage of the verdant plant, positioned carefully on the sunny corner of her deck. Mom and Dad had often shared family anecdotes, and a favorite was that of the gardenia and its special meaning for them.
As the tiny spheres of moisture cling to the shiny, dark green leaves like irrepressible teardrops, she is warmed by the memory of the love her parents knew and the family tree that began so many years ago, with their first gardenia.