The first church member I delivered flowers to died this week. I'll call her "Mrs. Ford." She was a disgruntled parishioner. She had been offended by something some pastor or interim had done years ago. She never went to church, but kept her name on the rolls.
I'll always remember her because of my experience delivering flowers to her after church one Sunday. As I walked up the ramp to her nursing home, there was a guy sitting in a wheelchair outside the door. He was locally well-known because he would sit outside and wave to passing cars. As I approached him with my bouquet of flowers, he said, "Here comes my idiot flower girl." I didn't know exactly how to respond to this, so I grinned and said nothing. Like an actual idiot.
When I reached my destination, Mrs. Ford was so discombobulated about my visit (also like an idiot, I had not called ahead), that she needed to sit down and take a puff from her oxygen machine. She was very surprised that I had shown up, not sure where to put the flowers and shocked that the church would send flowers in a leaking coffee can wrapped in foil (we use vases, now). She told me to sit and talk, while she sucked in the oxygen.
I was not much of a talker in those days, so I think I just sat and stared. Despite being in a nursing home and needing oxygen, she was surprisingly peppy. Eventually, she told me about her issue with the church, and how the people in the Alzheimer's ward were "mental," and about how we shouldn't send money overseas to charities. Then she asked me about long standing church members she had known when she actually attended church.
She asked particularly after one of our most active members, a woman who never married and who was rather, well, athletic. Obviously not taking me for a member of the Sapphic Sisterhood, Mrs. Ford said, "I always wondered about her. You know what I mean." When she said, "you know what I mean," her eyebrows pumped up and down vigorously.
I can't remember how I responded. I do remember feeling shocked and a little amused at the irony.
Later, I visited her again. And she sent me lovely thank you notes after my visits.
From her I learned: call ahead and be prepared for any question.