August 2, 2017

A Love Story, Told Through Flowers

Losing my Mum not quite a year and a half ago, I am keenly empathetic to anyone who has lost a parent. And seeing my Dad valiantly battle Parkinson's, I marvel at his strength and determination to constantly strive to improve his quality of life. But recently, when my sister-in-law lost BOTH of her parents in a span of four months apart, I knew their love for each other didn't allow one to live without the other. And when she asked me to help with the flowers for their respective services, I was deeply touched and honored. (And REALLY hoping I could do them both justice!) 
If you could have known Tommy and Daph, you would smile. She, an award-winning sailor and golf nut and he, an Olympic skier and masterful story-teller. Tommy and Daph laughed endlessly and enjoyed life in a way that very few get to experience. They created a world of fun at a NH ski resort and through their travels, skied many mountains with all sorts of luminaries. When they hung up their skis, they then sailed around the world and visited over 200 harbors! Just sitting on a mooring in our boat near them in a Maine cove one summer, we'd try to snag an invitation to "come aboard" because we knew the welcome would be genuine and extreme fun would surely ensue!

Tommy also happened to be in the same class at Dartmouth (the Great Class of '54) as my Dad, and together, they played on the lacrosse team. When I was lucky enough to follow my Dad to Dartmouth and also play on the lacrosse team, I also got to know Tommy's daughter, who it so happened, skied for Dartmouth, just like her dad did in addition to playing lax. So life has a funny way of synchronicity, which made creating these flowers for both Tommy and Daph all the more meaningful.
Daph's Celebration of Life came first with the most perfectly apt directive on the invitation to "Please Wear Daphne's Favorite Colors of Pink and Yellow!" How uplifting!! And it really did set the tone! Replete with a separate martini bar and over-sized multi-colored golf tees skewering olives, this was a party Daph would approve of! 

Being held in the Waterville Valley ski lodge also was a fitting location with the the trails ending at our feet, SNOW still on the hill, even on a sunny and hot June day! 
So we loaded up the Mighty Torpedo (our ancient and beloved 1978 GMC motor home that we paid for by selling the torpedo tube from our Navy ship for scrap and using that money - wow that sentence sounds crazy, but amazingly its all true!) and headed to NH. Torpedo needs a new tire cover, but we're always looking to "find our beach"!
 Supplies were important - Glorious beer from Lord Hobo - the awesome craft brewery where my son works, fruit, magazines and DVDs. Pretty impressive spread - lol.

The flower arrangements were filled with 'Carpe Diem' roses (we picked the roses because the tropicana colors matched Daphne's spirit so perfectly and when we read the name of the variety, we knew she sent us to them!), frothy pink astilbe to match her cozy pink cashmere sweaters, creamy fragrant stock, seasonally light pink peonies and Queen Ann's Lace, because obviously Daph was the Queen of the Day!
I was lucky enough to pose with Tommy and Peter Bullis, another fellow Dartmouth grad and member of  the Class of '54 and leader of the New Black Eagle Jazz Band. The band regaled the celebratory crowd with happy jazz, perfect for this colorful occasion! So, it came as a devastating shock, less than two weeks after this Celebration, that we heard the sad news that Tommy couldn't live without his beloved Daph and he was now enjoying a rum drink on the other side, with her. And when my sister-in-law heard the news, she looked outside and snapped this photo - a DOUBLE rainbow!! :)
So now comes the planning for Tommy's service. And because of the Waterville Valley logo colors being blue and green and Tommy's affinity for Dartmouth, we decided on a blue and green theme. Knowing that this was a bigger affair, we decided on smaller table centerpieces and then two big arrangements flanking the podium where the master of ceremonies would direct the event.
For the big arrangements, I got a couple of galvanized steel (galvanized steel was also part of this masculine and outdoorsy theme) buckets from Terrain and when they arrived, I saw how HUGE they were. I decided I better make a sample so I knew what I was getting into...
So in the bucket, I inserted a smaller bucket that I often use to fill with water and condition flowers. 

I filled the smaller bucket with oasis soaked with water and then went about adding all sorts of goodies!
 My design assistant, my crazy Bengal kitten Prim (aka Primrose), always wants to eat EVERY FLOWER/PLANT! We should've picked a different name for her!
 Because I didn't have all the things I needed since I was just practicing, I made a mixed greens base with some cuttings from our Wintercreeper Euonymus bush along with euphorbia that we got at the flower market.
I was trying to set the dimensions of the arrangement, knowing that it will be plopped in the BIG bucket.
Adding 'Shocking Blue' hydrangeas along with caspia (it looks like feathery heather) and a few white snapdragons, I could tell that I was going to have to put in some hydrangeas higher up. Prim agreed.

So I cut a water bottle in half, added some oasis and taped it to a stick and inserted it into the arrangement. Prim is looking very intense here!
I continued to fill the arrangement with some white Monte Casino asters (little tiny daisies), some baby green hydrangeas and more blue hydrangeas.
And with a nod to Tommy's skiing legacy, I embellished it with a set of mini skis and poles that we'll also use for the smaller arrangements.
 Here is my sample for the smaller centerpieces in the containers as they will appear. I didn't have the skis when I took the picture so I replicated the arrangement to play around with them and I think the final product combining the skis and the galvanized cup will look really cool! 
So as we wait for the day to celebrate Tommy, and Daph, knowing that they are together again, I think of my Mum too. They are probably all sharing glass or three of something - Glenlivet for my Mum, a martini with blue cheese stuffed olives for Daph and good rum drink for Tommy. And together, they are leading the band to yet another good time with friends, family and loads of laughs. I only wish there was one more time we could all celebrate together. 

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