Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Love in a bouquet of lilacs May 18, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Wisconsin lilacs from Randy. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2023)

IN 41 YEARS OF MARRIAGE, Randy and I have always been together on our wedding anniversary. But this May 15, he was 583 miles away in Lafayette, Indiana. Monday didn’t feel at all like a celebratory day with my husband gone. But I understood. He left southern Minnesota on Friday to attend our son’s graduation with a master’s of science degree from Purdue University. My vestibular neuronitis symptoms made travel and attending the Sunday evening commencement unmanageable. This was one of those moments in life when I experienced profound disappointment.

And so our anniversary passed on Monday with a phone call and loving text messages exchanged. I knew Randy would be home the next day, which was a gift in itself.

When he rolled into the driveway at 1:15 pm Tuesday after an overnight stay with our daughter and her husband in Madison, Wisconsin, my heart filled with gratitude for his safe return and overflowed with love in his presence. One long embrace later, and we were unpacking the van.

And then Randy said, “I have one more thing.” This dear dear husband of mine reached into the back of the van and pulled out a bouquet of lilacs. I stood there, overwhelmed with emotion at his thoughtfulness. I cried. We embraced again. Each May Randy cuts a bouquet of lilacs (usually at a city park) and brings them home to me. It’s part of our history, our story.

This May that story began in Madison, 271 miles to the southeast of Faribault, about a half-way point to Lafayette. When Randy stayed with Miranda and John en route to Indiana, he noticed lilacs blooming on the next-door neighbor’s bush. So on the return trip and his second overnight stay, he remembered those lilacs, asked for permission to take some and then cut two generous branches. John found a vase. Randy added water and then the lovely lilacs.

Some 4.5 hours later, Randy was pulling that clutch of lilacs from the van. I smashed the woody ends with a hammer for better water intake, added more water to the vase and then set the bouquet on a vintage chest of drawers. Soon the heady scent perfumed our living room.

Now each time I pass those lilacs, breathe in their intoxicating sweetness, I think of my dear dear husband. I think of his love for me and me for him. And I think of how something as seemingly simple as a bouquet of lilacs gathered in a Madison yard bring me such joy. Randy’s unexpected gift compensated for his absence on our 41st wedding anniversary. I feel so loved and cherished.

Thank you, Randy, for your thoughtfulness and love.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “Love in a bouquet of lilacs”

  1. beth Says:

    what a beautiful and loving gesture

  2. I remember his tradition of giving you lilacs. What a truly thoughtful and wonderful gift. Happy belated anniversary. I know you are happy to have him home.

  3. Ahhhh – feel the feels and the LOVE 🙂 It is truly the little things in life with your partner by your side that make one smile and have an extra beat in your heart. Happy Day – ENJOY!!!

  4. Dawn Tietz Says:

    Audrey, you are so very fortunate to have shared that many years of marriage and a loving husband to come home to you. I do so miss those days…..Btw Happy Anniversay and hope you feel better soon!

    • I’m so sorry you lost your dear Rich way too soon. You should have had many many years ahead together. I am thankful for the time you had with him and for your wonderful children and now your beautiful grandchildren.

      Thank you also for your anniversary and get well wishes. I, too, hope I feel better soon. I’ve improved certainly, but I have a lot to deal with yet. I see a neurologist next week and hope for more info. In the meantime, vestibular rehab therapy continues, extended now until the end of June, maybe longer. We’ll see how I’m doing.

  5. Valerie Says:

    Way to go Randy! Happy belated anniversary.
    My lilac bush didn’t produce many blossoms this year…time for a trim I guess.

  6. Sheri Moore Says:

    Happy Anniversary and congratulations to your son on his graduation. What a good day!!!

  7. Rose Says:

    Happy Belated 41st Anniversary! ❤️❤️What a loving story. Lilacs are such a beautifully fragrant flower! I can hardly wait for mine to bloom. Hope you feel completely better soon.

    • Thank you for your anniversary wishes and for appreciating my story about lilacs and my loving husband. Lilacs are truly a favorite of mine and it sounds like you, too. I’m doing my therapy exercises at home, seeing my therapist once a week, trying my best to do what I can to reclaim my health. The neurologist should have more answers next week as to long-term outlook.

  8. Nicely done, Randy!!

  9. Norma Says:

    So happy that you still have Randy and your Lilacs!! I always received flowers also.

  10. That is so beautiful- how lucky you are. Not everyone has the chance to experience a love such as this. AND. Lilacs – I love them too.

  11. Sandra Says:

    What a guy, your Randy and what a nice anniversary tradition. Lilacs are big in my family, we had 3 huge bushes outside the SMH house, Deaf School boundary was lilac bushes, no perfume ever duplicated the scent/aroma. Still my fav…Happy anniversary! I pray your hard work is soon rewarded with health! (your son has to go on to grad school with another ceremony)

  12. Judith Says:

    Belated happy anniversary wishes Audrey and Randy, and what a lovely and personal way to celebrate it- with lilacs. My white lilac tree is in full bloom- it flowers a couple of weeks after the purple ones here in England. I’d pass you a bunch over the fence if I could! Hope you continue to recover, so you can enjoy the summer with family.

    • Reaching across the fence for those white lilacs. Thank you. I see the neurologist tomorrow, so hoping for answers. Today was a really good day. Saturday was not. Therapy continues once a week with me doing my vestibular rehab exercises at home twice daily. I’m definitely seeing improvements.

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