Gertie sat beside the window and gazed out at the crocuses pushing up through the snow. Every year she was grateful she had a front window, that she could watch her flowers. Her granddaughter Kate used to pick flowers for her every Tuesday, on her walk home from school, but this year Kate was in high school, across town, and her visits had been less frequent. Still, Kate had planted the crocuses for her, a few years back, without the knowledge of Mr. Wallace, the manager of the home. He probably wouldn't have minded, but she loved that Kate was going to do it no matter what, because she knew how much Gertie missed her crocuses from home.
Gertie had planted her flowers years ago. She planted roses, tulips, daffodils, and zinnias, often replanting when some or others didn't survive the winter. She wanted to be surrounded by color and scent. Every moment she could she was out in her garden. She insisted on keeping it, even as her back began to ache and her knees grew shaky. Her son Tom insisted one year that she stop, but she had ignored him, insisting that the dirt was good for her arthritis. That had been her undoing, actually. She'd fallen in the garden one morning, fallen next to her roses and her zinnias, and found that she couldn't get up again. She'd crushed the tulips, sadly, and for awhile that was all she could think about, her poor tulips. It helped to keep her mind off of her hip, and her ankle, both of which were screaming in pain. She knew she shouldn't, but eventually she just closed her eyes and rested, mostly to find relief from the pain.
It was Kate that found her. Dear sweet Kate, she was only nine at the time, but had been allowed for many years to go alone to visit her grandma, just two houses down. Kate, who knew right away not to move her but to run for help. Kate, who held her hand until the paramedics came, talking about school and her dog, Sugar, and whatever else she could think of to help her Grandma Gertie smile. When the paramedics were lifting her into the ambulance, Gertie caught a glimpse of Kate waving wildly at her and blowing kisses. It was as though she were heading off on an exciting trip, and not to the hospital to have her hip replaced and her foot cast.
The next weeks were a blur of doctors visits, physical therapy, and long talks with her son. He insisted she couldn't live alone again. She insisted that she could, and would. When the doctor told her her foot wasn't healing correctly, and would need another surgery, her hope dimmed a bit. When her son found her a 'recovery center' to live in while she healed, they were all but dashed. The recovery center was also an assisted living home, and she soon had a permanent room.
At first, she hated it. On principle, of course. They didn't do things right. They made the bed wrong, cooked her chicken wrong, vacuumed the hallways wrong. But eventually, she grew to enjoy that she didn't have to vacuum the hallways or make the bed. She missed cooking though, and her flowers. Oh, how she missed her flowers.
A knock on the door interrupted her musings. Nurse Hannigan stuck her head in the room. "Gertie, you have a visitor!" She swung the door open a bit and Kate slipped in from behind her.
"Grandma!" She flung her arms around Gertie's neck and gave her a kiss on her cheek. "I missed you." Gertie smiled and hugged her tight. Some things were definitely more important than flowers.