by Norman Nason


Many years ago when my car was in the shop for repair, I took a bus to visit a friend. The seat in front of me was occupied by an elderly gentleman dressed in and outdated and disheveled suit and tie. He wore a brimmed hat typical of those from his generation, and held a large bouquet of fragrant-smelling flowers.


The seat in front of this man was occupied by a young mother and her little girl, perhaps five or six years of age. The little girl turned around in her seat to face the old gentleman, and was absolutely enamored with the floral display he carried.


"Mom!" she said. "Look at the beautiful flowers!"


Turning her head, the mother grinned. "Please excuse her," she said.


"It's all right," the old man said. "I don't mind."


"Can I smell them?" the little girl asked.


The old man held the flowers toward her nose.


"Oh!" said the little girl. "Those smell gorgeous!"


And so it went for five or ten minutes, the little girl continuing to faun over the flowers, never taking her eyes off them.


Finally, the old man reached up and pulled the cord that signaled the driver to stop. As the bus eased to the curb, he stood and turned toward the little girl.


"Would you like to have these?" he asked, handing them to her.


"Oh would I!" she said. "Can I, mom?"


The little girl's mother was about to say something, but before she could speak the old man was past them and out the bus door, leaving them with the flowers.


As we pulled away from the curb I looked back and noticed that the bus had stopped beside a cemetery, and the old man was walking through the gate.