A family florist stays alive despite a fire, dementia and loss
Published: April 13, 2011
She goes to see him every single day, sometimes twice a day. The couple spent so many years at the shop, so much time side by side, that he's still got that life ingrained in his mind, too deep to be diminished by a slipping memory. Patricia sometimes gets calls from the nursing home staff in the middle of the night because Nat's up and about, convinced it's time to go to work at his flower shop. She has to get up, get dressed, get down to the nursing home and console him back to sleep by telling him she already handled the day's orders.
"I say, 'Nat, I did it for you; you don't have to do it.' And he'll say, 'You did? That was really nice of you.' But 15 minutes after I leave, once I settle him down and get him in bed, he doesn't even know I've been there."
Her days are busier than ever now. Besides the enduring flower business, besides the visits to her husband, she's also an artist, with her own studio in the Scarab Club in Midtown and drawings exhibited in eight shows since the first of the year. And she babysits seven grandkids most days. "So it's a nursery and a flower shop in a house," she laughs.
It's spring again and it shows in her home. Roses jostle with water bottles for breathing space in the fridge, lilies yawn in the sunlight by the window, and the air is suffused with the perfume of all the blooms that have passed through the old house. For another year now the flower shop is being kept alive, a promise is kept to her family, and a vow is kept to her husband.
"It's difficult," she says. "It's real tough. But you know, I'm a firm believer in the old school. You know — you marry, you marry for life, and you take care of each other. It could be me. And I would want him to do the same thing for me."
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