Last Dahlias

As I hand the shopkeeper a ten-dollar bill, he hands me a delicately arranged bouquet of dahlias. A faint smile spreads across my lips, thinking how much she will love them. My mind travels back to my childhood days when I would run back home from school dashing through the front door. The aroma of freshly picked dahlias neatly arranged in the centre of the polished dining table would fill my nostrils.
I remember the time when the checkered picnic rug would be laid out on the overgrown grass of the hill next to our house. Hands entwined, we would race down the steep hill. Along the way, I would grab a handful of dahlias. Reaching the bottom of the hill, I would catch my breath and straighten the cluster of flowers I had picked. The flowers in my hands transferred to hers and her hazel eyes would glimmer with delight.
With her flowing, blonde hair brushing her shoulders in neat curls, she was quite a striking lady. Her almond shaped eyes always twinkled with happiness. Now her forehead is covered in wrinkles, back hunched and her frail body supported by a walking cane. But the love and affection she had for me still reflects in those hazel eyes despite her deteriorated health.
My mind wanders further through my memories and I see myself ready to deliver my school captain speech. I frantically search the crowd for that face which gave me something not able to be taught, reassurance. A difficult and traumatised childhood and youth did not hinder her from showering love and warmth upon me.
Parking my car, my eyes wander towards the sky scraping building with a huge sign bearing a red cross. My mind ponders uneasily on what she could be doing right now. I follow the receptionist with tentative steps, afraid of what I might encounter. “Here you go, this is ward number 37”, she says earnestly.
I nervously enter the room to find her bed surrounded by doctors and nurses frantically searching for any signs of life in the patient. They exchange grim looks and I can sense my worst fears confirmed.
My body reacts before my mind, and I am staring at her motionless body. Her eyes are wide open and she lies in a curved position. My hopeful heart sinks a million miles. I face the reality; she is gone, gone forever. I gently place the flowers she so loved in her arms and with both my fingers shut those eyes of hers. As tears cascade down my cheeks, I curl my arms around her lifeless shoulders.
It has been a month since my beloved mother passed away but the grief I experience still has not vanquished. Her fond memories drift through my mind as I stare at the epitaph, ‘you took in all the wonders of life, wrapped them in a colourful package and gave it to me. I will miss you now and always!’

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