Gardenias on my desk, slim vase, deep green leaves, framing a burst of white. Where did you come from? A father´s love. That morning as I walked past a gardenia plant with my dad, I had mentioned how strong they smelt. … it was not a compliment on my part. My dad believed it was, that evening the gardenia appeared on my desk. When it died another appeared.
My dad is not good at talking, barely does, except to get angry, then he screams and shouts for all that he was silent. It was hard growing up with that. He wasn´t good at hugging either, went stiff as a board if you tried. Never praised, never let you know you were okay just being you rather than a child to be shouted at. But he had a soft spot, his garden, he´d spend hours mugging around with his plants and feeding stray birds. And then, that morning, I complimented his prize.
Once gardenia season was over, birds of paradises appeared, then it was bougainvilleas and so on it went. My desk always miraculously held a vase with a flower in bloom from my dad´s garden. My comment that morning had given my dad a space, a way to express his love for his daughter.
My dad still has trouble hugging, though I manage to get more in these days than as a child. And his temper ….well…..that has been tempered with age. And me…. I now love the smell of gardenias.