It had been fifty years, but Betsy remembered every detail as if it were yesterday. It wasn’t every day, afterall, that the older girl whom you looked up to and absolutely adored gets engaged and asks you to be her flower girl. Years before she was born, their moms had met through the PTA and their families had become fast friends. They went to the park where they’d play together and enjoy picnics almost every Sunday in the summer. During the winter, they’d get together to play cards. Sue was almost a teenager when Betsy came along so, in a way, she was like Betsy’s big sister. As she grew, Betsy often went over to Sue’s house and just loved going into Sue’s room, hanging out with her, and looking at her stuff. She was captivated by how it was arranged, the décor, even the scent. She was fascinated with Sue’s Storybook Doll collection. But most of all, she loved that Doll, the porcelain Asian one in the middle of all the others, the one that was housed in its own glass case for safekeeping on the shelf next to Sue’s bed. That Doll was truly a treasure, not just because it belonged to Sue, but also because it had come back from Korea with Sue’s uncle Chuck. Betsy loved that Doll, and she spent countless hours during her childhood staring in awe at its rare beauty.
Wedding day finally arrived; what a thrill for a flower girl to be princess for a day and walk down the aisle behind the beautiful bride. As if it weren’t enough of a treat to have a starring role in Sue’s special day, it was customary for the bride to give her attendants a gift. Sue knew exactly what she would give to her young friend. Imagine Betsy’s delight as Sue handed her that ornate Doll, safely encased in glass and staring back at her, as a way of saying “thank you!” For the next fifty years, that very Doll on Betsy’s shelf served as a gentle but constant reminder of Sue’s thoughtfulness, compassion, generosity, friendship and love.
I first heard this story last May at Sue’s Golden Wedding Anniversary gathering during our walk down memory lane. Betsy, now 58 years old, stood up to toast the happy couple, to talk about the bond that connected the two families, and to share details about what an indelible impression her flower girl experience had made on her. She did her best to convey how excited she was to have been chosen and how incredibly special it made her feel when she got Sue’s remarkably selfless gift. I remember thinking that this was such a sweet story and wondering what made Sue think to give Betsy that Doll.
But that’s not where this flower girl’s story ends. In a touching twist that left everyone tongue-tied, Betsy reached for a tall pink box behind her and handed it to Sue with these simple words, “And now it’s time for that Doll to come back home.” Saying that there wasn’t a dry eye at that moment in the crowd of anniversary-goers might be an understatement. I choked back tears of my own as I watched Sue hug Betsy and slowly open the box to see that Doll, a symbol of thoughtfulness, compassion, generosity, friendship and love, staring back at her exactly as she had remembered it, from inside exactly the same curio case, and in exactly the same shape that she’d given it to her flower girl fifty years earlier.
Curiosity got the best of me, so when I could compose myself, I asked Betsy what prompted her to return that Doll. She said it simply seemed like the right thing to do, that she’d enjoyed it long enough. She figured that its homecoming would make the perfect Golden Wedding Anniversary gift to Sue and to her family, that giving that Doll back would complete the circle. I couldn’t agree more.
When good goes, it always comes back around. What a blessing to experience the power of giving brought full circle by a bride, her flower girl and that Doll.