One of the most unusual, in fact probably extremely rare styles of giving that Mom had was her special and surprising way of being very generous with her heart to complete strangers.I'm ashamed of myself for not having thought to write about this aspect of mom's character. My only defense is that we saw this side of her so much that ... I tended to think it was normal.
Extremely early in the morning or when the timing was right she would go all out creating a half dozen or more of these huge unbelievably gorgeous custom bouquets made of fresh cuttings of various extra pretty flowers, shrubs and trees found all around our 12 acre nursery ( which no longer exists ). Each bouquet would weigh a hefty 5 to 10 pounds each. Most of these plant materials were unusual and extremely hard to find. She'd keep them fresh longer by making sure that the base of the cuttings stayed moist. Each one of these bouquets could easily sell for $150 each today. Once she had these carefully packed in the trunk of her car she would go out to quite a few garage or yard sales. She'd usually search for low cost little treasures that would make nice presents for her friends, great tiny things that would help her with her crafting or perhaps an aqua colored glass object to add to her aqua colored glass collection.
During this shopping adventure and right before leaving a yard sale - if anyone gave her a real authentic smile, was very polite, helpful or any kind of positive behavior she would open up the trunk of her car and pull out one of these bouquets and give it to this nice person along with her healthy smile. I've personally witnessed seeing the look of shock on the faces of these lucky recipients, as well as hearing their responses and seeing tears of joy rolling down their cheeks. Some of them would ask something like "What did I do to deserve this?". My Mom would answer: " Because of your beautiful smile and personality" or something just as wonderful.
I'll add to Scott's story by pointing out that many times her “gift” was just some simple and kind words. There are so many times that I witnessed this that it's hard to pick out just one to relate – but remember, please, that this sort of thing happened very often with her. On one of her visits to us in California, mom, dad, Debbie and I all went out to one of our favorite Thai restaurants, on Orange Avenue in Coronado. The hostess and waiter was a woman perhaps 40 years old, Thai, who spoke English well, but with an attractive Thai accent. She was very attentive to us during our meal, and helped mom and dad (then unfamiliar with Thai food) choose appropriate items from the menu. During all of this, she maintained a calm, professional demeanor. At the end of our meal, my mom told her, very directly, that her service to us had been spectacularly good, and that her voice was so attractive that my mom would like to listen to it all day long. Our waitress' face lit up like she'd just won the lottery – she was transformed. Ten minutes later, as we left the restaurant, she was talking with the owner and still beaming.
Mom often said something along the lines of “You never know if you’ll have another chance – so if someone deserves some praise, give it to them right now!” She truly lived by that maxim; on some days she left a trail of cheer and smiles behind her everywhere she went. I try to do the same, very much following her example, as do my siblings...