A fragrant memory
I t was the first thing I noticed as I walked through the sliding doors into the foyer of the large Sydney Adventist hospital – the rich enveloping fragrance of a multitude of flowers drifting from the florist shop beside the lifts. I stepped into the lift and rode up to my floor, and as I walked along the corridor to my room a faint echo of that same fragrance came from the flowers in other patient’s rooms.
My five-hour operation for bowel cancer was scheduled for early the next morning, and although I was extremely nervous, somehow the sweet perfume of those flowers lifted my spirits and reminded me that God is on His throne and that there is love and beauty in His world.
When I finally managed to get my eyes to focus a few days after the surgery I became aware of that fragrance once again. I saw that my room was now filled with the colors and perfume of beautiful floral arrangements lovingly sent by friends and family, like a vibrant wallpaper bringing the bare hospital walls to life.
Over the next two weeks as I gradually regained my strength and began to cope with the ugly colostomy and the huge scar that the surgeon had left when he removed the tumor, those flowers helped to sooth my heart and spirit with their perfume and their beauty. Somehow they are linked in my memory with the cheerful little nurse who took the time to rub my back and sing hymns to me while she did. I felt so fortunate to be in a hospital where prayer began every shift and operation.
When I returned three months later to have the colostomy reversed, that same perfume greeted me as I walked in through the doors of the hospital, like the warm welcome of an old friend.
This time when I awoke from the surgery I became aware of a more delicate perfume. When I turned my head I saw on the table beside my bed a small but beautifully crafted glass swan filled with pink water, overflowing with pink carnations tied with pink ribbons, its image reflected in the small round mirror it sat upon — like the still waters of a glassy lake. I was transfixed by its beauty and the thoughtfulness of the friend who had given it to me, particularly as my favorite color is pink.
Each day as I battled to cope with the after effects of the surgery and the fear that my bowel would never function properly again, the pink swan with its frilly dress of pink carnations sat serenely beside my bed and brought comfort to my heart.
Today when I walk past a florist shop in a busy shopping centre that same perfume catches my attention and takes me back to that time, reminding me of the goodness of God. I am thankful that He has given me more than 26 years since then to enjoy His blessing and good health, to see my children grow up, marry and have their own families, and to delight in my beautiful grandchildren.