A Flowering Birthday.

posted in: Family, Luv 17
A picture of a birthday flower bouquet with “Happy Birthday!” featured prominently…in German. Thanks, Wikipedia! You shouldn’t have.


My birthday this year was so good, it’s going to go down as one of the best in my life. I don’t make such a statement lightly. Birthdays can be just the absolute pits, some years. This one wasn’t at all.*

There were so many perfect things that happened. I think the first thing I’ll tell you about is the flowers.

So there I was, sitting in my jim-jams and robe yesterday morning, reading a book at the kitchen bar, idly chatting with my family, sipping tea; you know, all that strenuous Island work.

There was a knock at the door. Deducing that we had company (it seemed logical) and that it was sub-optimal for me to receive guests in my ‘jams, I leaped up and scrambled into the shower.

Shower complete and dressed like a person should be dressed at that hour of the day, I peeked my head out of the bathroom to see who had come to call. But there was no guest. Instead, Mom, Rebecca, and Jack, the three of them there in the living room, turned my attention to an absolutely enormous bouquet of the most gorgeous flowers I have perhaps ever seen: Black-eyed Susans, crown vetch, lilies, tiny-purple-flowers-I-don’t-know-the-name-of, mini-cattail thingies, lush greenery, and more. In its generous vase, that bouquet measured about as tall as I am from my waist to the top of my faux-blonde head.

I was confused. What? How did —? Did they come from my aunt? That was nice of her, but… The peanut gallery flapped their arms and pointed and said, “Read the card! Read the card!

Slowly, I turned back to the flowers and inspected. There, tied with a ribbon wrapped around the glass, a simple message on a small, white square of paper: “Happy Birthday, Mary — With Love, From Claus. xoxo.”

What would you have done?

Me, I made a little squeak and blinked back the tears instantly springing to my eyeballs. I had a towel around my shoulders to dry my wet hair and I kind of pulled it up and over my head. I needed to hide for some reason. I still peeked out from the top of my head-towel burrito with big, wide eyes, scanning every petal.

“Claus sent me flowers?” I said, and a big, fat tear rolled down my cheek. I looked over at my family. My heart was like, foofing around, doing some sort of foofing maneuver.

“Nice guy,” Jack said, and went back to the newspaper. “I always liked Claus.”

“Rebecca helped him arrange it all,” Mom said. She kind of sing-songed it. “Flower delivery, on an island, on a Sunday morning. Not baaad.”

I looked back at the flowers. They just didn’t seem real at all. My sister Rebecca was at her laptop on the couch. I asked her if it was true, if she worked on this with Claus. She nodded and said, “Sure did.”

Later in the day, Claus and I skyped. We’ve been doing that a lot lately, video chatting across continents. It’s so hard to love a person so much and they’re not here and you remember the last time you saw them wasn’t so great but that person is great so then you think you’re nuts but then you just feel so sad when you’re in contact but have no semblance of any next step, exactly, except/and then you remember how this person is not perfect but then you remember you’re not, either, Mary Fons oh my good lord in heaven, and then you feel like throwing up your hands and then you just feel like throwing up and then you get flowers, on your birthday, across an ocean and a lake. And that person sent them.

What then?

There’s no florist shop on the Island. Claus and Rebecca worked with the lady who simply “does the flowers” up there. That means that all those perfect blooms and blossoms were culled from fields and gardens on Washington Island. They were all local. They were of — and in — the moment. Just like me. And Claus.

That’s the flower story.


*There’s even more birthday to come. Sophie, the World’s Best Birthday Celebrator, has plans for me on Friday. Zounds…!

17 Responses

  1. Charlotte
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday to us! Mine’s on the 7th and I’m now 39. I got a hefty, handmade, sharp-as-a-razor cleaver and an HQ Sweet Sixteen sit-down mid-arm machine, but your bunch of flowers story makes me wish I got one of them too. Here’s w ishing you many more beautiful bunches of flowers from special people.

    • Elizabeth Miller
      | Reply

      Happy birthday Mary! I remember reading the whole Claus adventure and thought to myself that this is a relationship that must bloom when it is meant to a not be forced. I can’t help but think this is a sign of reward for letting the relationship grow at its own pace and allow you to enjoy the journey along the way. This birthday is one of many happy birthdays to come in your life. Thank you for sharing your adventures with all of us.

  2. Jennifer Reinke
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday Mary! Yes, how very special this is. This flower moment.

  3. Susan
    | Reply

    W. O. W. !!!

  4. Kelly Ashton
    | Reply

    I’m so glad that you truly had a Happy Birthday, Mary!!
    Great story about the flowers.! 🙂

  5. Robin Cassidy
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday Mary! Clays sounds like quite a guy.

  6. Barbara
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday Mary, sounds like you’re still in Claus’ heart.

  7. HelenMarie
    | Reply

    Wondrous but not. You are so special. Perfection suits no one!

  8. Georgeanna Couldry
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday, Mary!

  9. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday Mary! LIfe and love is so complicated!

  10. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    Now that is the sweetest and romantic thing ever! God bless your sister and Claus sounds like a ‘keeper’.

  11. Kathy
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday. I’m the 7th. Who knew? All creative people in August. Such a nice story. I love getting flowers. I had a lovely lunch at a water-view hotel in town. So special.

  12. Brandy Hallock
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday Mary! What a breathtaking flower bouquet you painted a picture of in my minds eye. They sound so lovely! So glad your birthday was so special. 🙂

  13. Marilyn
    | Reply

    Happy Birthday Mary. Your friend appears to ❤️ you. My BD is 8/11. I really enjoy your stories. Thank you

  14. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    Show us a picture of that beautiful bouquet! I adore Claus!

  15. […] dab in the middle of the anniversary of my birth. I’m already in a terrific mood because Claus sent me the most enormous bouquet of Door County field flowers and my sister Rebecca asked me before we left Chicago what kind of cake I wanted and I said […]

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