(For once I feel like writing something really happy! Here you go! Note to reader: This story might be a little cheesy, so yeah. Um.right.)

Grandma's Flowers
By: Tk. T

My name is Rachel Foster. I am thirty-two years old, an average middle-aged single woman. I live in the grand state of South Carolina in your average house, you know, the rundown house off of the suburbs. There's nothing spectacular about me, in fact, I'm just as plain as plain can get. I'm not a gorgeous blond, or the next Venus swimsuit model, I'm just average. Plain old Rachel Foster, that's me. And I'm happy with being plain and average, I'm happy with what I have. I'm not rich, not poor, just in the middle.
Then there's Grandma Christina who used to live right by me, not literally of course, she lived in a nursing home just half an hour away from my little house. Grandma Chris is what I always call her. She calls me Ellie for some reason, I never understood it. My name is Rachel. Often I have to remind her of that, but Grandma Chris doesn't seem to care. She has always called me Ellie, ever since I was a little girl. I don't know where she got that name from, perhaps she made it up.
Grandma Chris is eighty-three years old and was always an active woman. She likes to play tennis for one thing, and she gardens. She made flower arrangements for me so I could display them in my window. She used to do a lot of things when she was younger, crazy things. But now, since she had her accident she's been only able to sew, cook, and read. I think she hates it, I can see it in her eyes how much she misses her other activities that she used to do. That is, before he came along.
I visited her now and then but especially more right after her accident. Grandma Chris was a different person then than now.
Now, now Grandma Chris will become Christina Ramon, and she'll be happier. You see, today is the day my Grandma Chris gets married. Yes, strange isn't it? Someone at her age getting married again, I know what anyone else would think, hell, I thought it too.
I must say that at first I was skeptical about her engagement, and I loathed the man that was taking my Grandpa Kane's place, but now I think differently. Yes, I want her to marry him now. Grandma Chris has smiled so much more now that she met him, but at first I was too blind to see.
I look over to my mother and smile at her. Mom puts her hand over mine and smiles at me. "Do you know where they're going for they're honeymoon?" she asked.
"No," I say to Mom and smile up into the sunshine. "I only hope that this wedding starts soon! I'm beginning to sweat in this dress!"
Mom sighs now and sits back against her seat, "I still can't believe that she's actually doing this, that she's getting married! It seems so fast doesn't it?"
I smile again.
Dad looks over at me, "Hey Rachel, what time is it?" he asks me.
"Don't worry Dad," I say smiling at him. "They'll show up, you know Grandma Chris, she's always late, even for her own wedding!" and I laugh with my parents.
My niece, Robyn, pokes me in the arm. "Auntie Rachel?" she asks. I look down at her. "Why is Grandma Christina getting married? Didn't she meet this guy just three months ago? Don't you think it is too soon?"
I smile now and pat her on the shoulder, "She's in love," I tell my thirteen year old niece. "Grandma Chris is in love with him, that's why."
Robyn glares, "How did she meet this guy anyway?" she demands. "Isn't Grandma too old to be getting married?"
I am shocked by how similar my thoughts once were with Robyn's. "No one is too old to get married, Robby," I tell her now with a smile.
Robyn still glares, "He's ten years younger than her!"
"Yes," I say looking at Mom with a knowing smile. "He is ten years younger than her, but what difference does it make?"
Robyn rolls her eyes. "I think it is disgusting! They're too old, what are they going to do on their honeymoon?"
My parents and I laugh.
"Robby," I laugh hugging my niece. "Let me tell you something," I say as I look down in her uplifted face. "Love can strike you when you least expect it." I pause, "Do you know how Grandma Chris and him met?"
"Grandpa Kane?" asks my niece.
"No, I mean Mr. Ramon," I say with a smile. "Maybe if you hear the story you won't think so badly of Grandma's marriage. We want to be happy for them, right?"
Robyn slumps in her seat, "Whatever."
"Speaking of love," says Dad with a grin. "What about Mark?" he asks me, I look over at him with a flush. "Why isn't he here?"
I quickly look back at Robyn, "What does it matter?" I say a little defensive.
"Auntie Rachel!" cries Robyn. "You're blushing!"
I clear my throat, "Let me tell you about Grandma Chris," I say to change the subject. "I'll tell you all about Grandma and Mr. Ramon and then maybe you'll change your mind. I used to hate Mr. Ramon too," I say putting my arm over my niece's shoulders.
"Is what you're about to tell me something like I'd see out of a cheesy romance movie?" she demands.
"Sort of," I reflect a little. "But let me tell you, I was there you know, I saw it all happen," I say winking at Robyn. "It all started after Grandma's accident," I say thinking back.
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"Grandma Chris," I said taking her thin old hand in my own. "How are you feeling, are you all right?" I asked her.
"Fine," she said with a shaky sigh. "I'm just a little tired," she said as she looked up at me with wavering eyes.
I remember staring into her eyes that were once filled with energy, now drained. I turned away from her and glared at the nurse standing behind me. "You said that she was fine! Look at her, she's black and blue all over!" I cried angrily.
"She's old, Miss Foster," she only said without feeling. "A simple fall down the stairs for someone her age is fatal. But she'll get better, just let those bruises heal and she'll be all right."
I glared at her and turned around to Grandma Chris, "I have to go to work now," I said to her in a low soft voice. "When I get off on lunch break I'll come back to visit, alright?" I asked her.
She nodded her head with a small groan, "Ellie," she said reaching out and touching my wrist, tears were in her eyes. "Ellie."
I felt my own tears in my eyes but I said nothing and kissed her on the forehead, "I'll be back as soon as I can, Grandma," I said as I turned from her and out of the hospital.
I went to my car and drove to work with the radio low. It was a wonder I made it through work at all. I couldn't concentrate, I could only think of Grandma Chris. I had visited the hospital briefly at lunch but she was asleep. So after work I drove back to the hospital to check up on her again.
"Grandma Chris?" I said gently opening the door to her room. "Are you awake?" I asked into the dark room.
"Ellie, come in," she rasped at me.
I sat by her bed and hugged her, "Oh, Grandma, you'll be all right," I said taking both of her hands and smiling as best as I knew how. "The doctor says that you have a minor fracture in your leg, but it'll heal up soon."
"Ellie," sighed Grandma Chris shaking her head. "I should've been paying attention as I walked up those damn stairs."
"Grandma," I remember saying. "You'll heal up soon, the doctor says that your injuries are minor, you'll be Ok."
"Did you call Wilson?" she asked me.
She was referring to my father. "Yes, I called Dad," I said squeezing her hands.
We continued to talk a little while until a short knock came at the door and a voice telling me to leave. I said goodbye to my Grandma with a quick kiss before standing up with my purse. "I'll see you tomorrow," I told her.
Grandma Chris smiled at me, "Goodbye Ellie, tell the folks not to worry," she said with a small smile and a little wave.
"Bye Grandma," I said slipping from the room.
I walked out to the hallway with my eyes cast down to the floor. I was a little depressed, could you blame me? I knew that the doctor said that her injuries were minor but Grandma was old, she was eighty-three. I knew she was fragile as little as my Grandma Chris was willing to accept.
I pulled out my keys and was just about to leave when I first saw Mr. Ramon. He was holding a bouquet of flowers as I walked past him, little did I know then.
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"Why didn't you say anything to him?" demanded Robyn all of a sudden, interrupting me. "I would've hit him with something!"
"Now, Robby," said Dad soothingly. "Mr. Ramon is a nice man. I don't see why you don't like him. He's making Grandma Christina happy, isn't he? They're getting married and so on, you should be happy for them!"

"He's only marrying Grandma Christina because she's richer than he is, that's all! Mr. Ramon is a florist! He's dirt poor!" she cries out with a glare to each of my parents and me.
"That isn't very nice, Robby," says Mom.
"That was when I first saw Mr. Ramon," I say with a sigh. "But I didn't even get to the part about Mr. Ramon and Grandma meeting up for the first time, or are you going to interrupt me again?" I ask her.
Robyn snorts, "I don't like him! He's using her! Someone should say something to Grandma Christina! I think this whole thing is wrong!"
"Robyn," says Dad with a sigh.
"Grandpa Will!" cries Robyn looking at him. "You should say something to your mother, don't you think? Aren't you a little worried about Grandma Christina?"
Dad shakes his head, "My Mom is a grown woman, she makes her own decisions," he says to Robyn with a smile.
I look back up the aisles for Mark but he isn't there. I look back at my parents and Robyn with a little sigh.
"Tell me about Mr. Ramon and Grandma Christina," says Robyn looking at me now. "How did they meet?" she asked.
"It was a month or so later," I said narrowing my eyes in thought. "This was after they had moved Grandma Chris to the nursing home downtown," I say putting my arm around Robyn's shoulders. "I was visiting Grandma Chris when she decided to go to the Flower Shop where he works."

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"Brilliant sky outside!" she cried squeezing my hand. "I hate being cramped up in that little room all day," she made a face at me.
I grinned, "You need some sun, you're as pale as a ghost," I laughed with her with a warm smile.
"I'm so glad that you're here today, Ellie," she said patting my arm. "I want you to be happy, are you?" she asked me.
"Happy? Of course I'm happy!" I told her with another smile and this time a little caught off guard. "Why wouldn't I be?" I ask her.
"You're single," she tells me patting my arm again. "Don't you get lonely being by yourself all day?"
"Well, you aren't lonely by yourself," I pointed out.
I noticed how sullen the old woman looked. "Yeah, well, I still miss Kane," she said in a low voice.
"Grandma Chris," I sighed hugging her shoulders. "I miss him too. No one expects you not to miss him."
"It's been twelve years," cried my Grandma Chris shaking her head. "I get so lonely, especially now."
I felt my heart turn over for her but I said nothing. "Grandma Chris," I said quietly, the only thing I could say.
Then Grandma Chris smiled and looked at me, "But enough about me! What about you?"
I admired her strength. Grandma Chris was always so strong. Grandpa Kane died of cancer right when I was graduating from high school. His death devastated her, although she didn't let on how much she was hurting everyone could see it. But even still, even after all of these years Grandma Chris is still living.
It never occurred to me how lonely she must've been. I felt a little bad for her. I missed Grandpa Kane so terribly, but he was my grandfather, having a husband die is much more different.
I saw the flower shop up ahead at the corner.
"Is there any new boyfriend I need to be hearing about?" she asked me with a grin. "You can tell me, Ellie!" she insisted when I had told her that I was happy being single.
"There has to be somebody that you're interested in!" she cried poking me with her eyes lighting up. Her face caught the sunshine and gave her cheeks a glow.
I smiled and laughed, "Honest! Honest! I'm happy being single, I'm not looking for anyone right now!" I told her.
"You're thirty-two and still unmarried and boyfriendless," she shook her head. "Sometimes you remind me of that tomboy girl you were in high school," she said with a sigh as she smiled up at me.
I remember just looking away and staring at the flower shop ahead of us.

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"So this is where Mark comes in, huh?" asks Robyn, cutting me off again but this time with a huge wide grin on her face.
"What!" I say defensive again. "Who are you talking about?" I decide to play dumb with her although it is clear that I'm not fooling anyone.
"Mark works at the flower shop, doesn't he?" asks Mom smiling at me and touching my arm again.
I look away, "I don't want to talk about him!"
"You know that you still like him," says Robyn giggling. "You're blushing again, Auntie Rachel!" she points at my face.
I look away from all of them indifferently, "I don't know what you're talking about!" I say with my head held high. "But yes, Mark does work at the flower shop and he also spent time in the nursery home with Grandma Chris," I said looking down at Robyn again.
"Did Grandma Christina like Mark?" she asks me.
"I guess so," I say now with a snort. "Mark is the one responsible for their marriage I guess you could say," I fold my hands in my lap and stare at them.
"Tell me about the time when you first met Mark!" cries Robyn pulling the sleeve of my dress. "I want to hear about you and Mark!" she is excited with large brown eyes shining at me.
I stare at my hands, "There is nothing to tell!" I say clearing my throat. "The day I met Mr. Ramon was the day I met Mark."
"Yes, I would very much like to hear how you and Mark came to be," said Dad.
I glare at Dad, "There's nothing to tell!" I cry angrily.
"She's blushing again!" giggles Robyn.
I give a frustrated cry and stand up, "I'm going to get some cookies," I say quickly.
I walk to the table and stand there while glaring at the punch bowl. I do not hear my sister walk up on me. "Rachel!" she says hugging me from behind.
I gave a cry and turned around, "Gloria!" I cry sighing while placing a relieved hand over my heart. "You startled me!"
She laughs and looks over to our parents, "Robyn is over there isn't she?"
"Yes, she wants to know all about Mr. Ramon and Grandma," I say with a sigh. "So I'm telling her the details, you know me," I laugh shaking my head. "Where's Kevin?" I ask switching subjects.
"Who knows where that crazy man is now?" laughs my sister. "He's probably talking with Aunt Darla or Uncle Larry," she trails off looking at me. "So-" she says.
"So what?"
She gives me a look, "I heard about the rift you and Mark seem to be having." "How does everyone know about this?" I cry looking at the table again. "There is no rift, there isn't anything, alright? I wish you guys would drop it!"

"Ok," she says casually, "No harm done," she pats me on the back. "I'm just worried about my little sister," she says with a smile.
I look at her and slump my shoulders, "Well, you worry too much."
"Rachel," she chuckles and hugs my shoulders. "Same old stubborn Rachel," she laughs walking away from me. "I'm going to go find my crazy husband, will you join us? He's talking to Uncle Larry over there by the garden!"
"No!" I wave to her.
"Ok," she shrugs and leaves me standing by the refreshments' table. I sigh after a while and look back at the church. Then I check my watch, "1:33 and nor bride or groom is here," I say to myself.
"Auntie Rachel!" cries Robyn's voice.
Robyn, I think to myself. Man, I wish I was thirteen again. I sigh and sit down beside my parents and niece.
"You talked to Mom," she says looking worried. "Did she say anything about those new shoes I wrecked?"
"What new shoes?" I ask.
"Forget it then," she sighs as if relieved.
"Rachel," says Mom leaning over to see me. "What time is it, dear?" she asks.
"Don't you have a watch, Mom?" I ask looking down at my wrist. "1:35," I tell her while looking at the church again.
"It's getting late," says Dad. "Should I call and ask if they're Ok?"
"They're fine, Will," says Mom patting his arm reassuringly.
"Auntie Rachel!" Robyn nudges me in the ribs. "Tell me about you and Mark!"
"There's nothing to tell!" I snap indifferent.
"Fine, then tell me about you and Mr. Ramon!" she whispers fiercely. "You never told me about how Grandma Christina and Mr. Ramon met up with each other!"
"I told you already," I sigh impatiently. "I met him at the flower shop with Grandma Christina! We were buying flowers for her room."

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Mr. Ramon was a short man in his early seventies. He had white hair and a grey moustache on his face. He was also very skinny. When I first saw him he had a green apron over his shoulders and waist, the worker's uniform that all workers in the Flower Shop wore.
Grandma Chris and Mr. Ramon made eye contact with each other and immediately fell into talking. I nosed around the aisles while they chatted away. I was trying to find petunias for Grandma. I knew that Grandma loved bright colored flowers and I wanted to decorate her drab room with some spice.
I touched a petal of an iris when I heard a man clearing his throat behind me. I gasped and turned around startled, but he was smiling at me. "Can I help you with anything?" he asked me.
My heart was still pounding, I had not even heard him sneak up on me, or maybe I was so absorbed with picking flowers. "Yes," I said after several moments of gathering up my composure. "I'm looking for some flowers for my grandmother's room," I told him turning around to the petunias. "I'm looking for something bright, something cheery," I said looking up at him from over my shoulder.
"Hmm," he said rubbing his chin. "Well, what color is her room?" he asked me.
"White or beige," I answered.
"Bright you said?" he asked walking away from where I was standing. I took that to mean that he wanted me to follow him so I did. I followed the man to a little greenhouse tent. "I think yellow or pink would look nice in a beige room," he said pointing to several marigolds and lilies. "What do you think?"

"Hmm," I touched the petal of the lily in thought. "I don't know, I'll ask my grandmother if she likes these kinds of flowers," I turned from him and found Grandma Chris laughing with the old man in front of the counter.
"Grandma Chris!" I said touching her shoulder. "Tell me what you think of these flowers," but she didn't seem to hear me. She waved me away and told me to choose whatever I liked best.
I sighed and turned back to the man waiting for me. "What did she say?" he asked. "Lilies, marigolds, or petunias?" he asked.
"She has no preference," I said directing my attention to the marigolds. "I want to pick something nice for her," I said touching the petals with my fingertips.
"Well, the lilies are bright and colorful or maybe the mix of tulips over there," he pointed to the far end of the rack. "Do you want a mix of colors or just one color?"

"I don't know," I shrugged with a smile.
He smiled at me, "Want my opinion?"
"Go ahead."
"For a cheery room the mix of colors would be best," he turned and walked to the marigolds. "We have yellows, pinks, blues," he trailed off, "Mix and matching marigolds normally add cheer to a room, if that's what you're looking for," he looked at me with another smile.
I smiled back, "Sure, fine, I don't care, just as long as they're bright," I said.
"How many of each color do you want?"
"Oh, I don't really know," I confessed.
"Pot or vase?" he asked.
"Vase," I answered. "No- pot, pot, pot, pot," I changed my mind. "Pot, thank you," I told him.
"Pots last longer," he said smiling at me again.
"Seven of each," I said looking down at the marigolds.
"Pots?" he looked confused.
I laughed, "Marigolds!" I told him.
He laughed too, this time looking embarrassed. "Sorry," he said scratching his head embarrassed. "I knew you meant marigolds," he looked sheepish.
"We all make mistakes," I told him graciously.
"What colors?" he asked me.
"I'll take the yellow, red, white, and blue," I said pointing at the marigolds. "Those are cheery colors, aren't they?" I asked smiling at the man.
"Cheery, yes," he told me smiling again.
I looked back at Grandma Chris to find her laughing with the old man. It took me a second to realize that they were flirting with each other. I must've showed my surprised because the man laughed at me.
"I believe that Mr. Ramon is hitting on your grandmother!" he laughed at me.
I blushed and looked away. "I see!" I cried.
The man was still smiling when I looked up at him again, I remember thinking how kind and comforting his smile was. He looked around his late twenties early thirties, like me. He had a nice smile and a warm face, I thought he was nice looking for a man.
He had never stopped smiling at me and after a while I felt a little shy. "Is there something on my face?" I asked him shyly looking away.
"Am I staring?" he cried. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to," he said laughing nervously. "There's nothing on your face," he told me as he arranged the marigolds for me, his face looking serious now. "Sorry," and he lowered his head into his work not saying or smiling anything more.
I walked over to Grandma Chris and Mr. Ramon. They were still talking to each other and I noticed that their hands were touching on the top of the counter. I froze a little then glared at Grandma Chris.
We were just talking about Grandpa Kane, I thought angrily.

------------------------------------------------------------- "So the guy was Mark? The guy with the marigolds?" asks Robyn grinning at me and nudging me.
"Were you listening at all to what I was saying?" I sigh.
"Go on, Rachel," says Dad.

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"Grandma Chris!" I cried glaring at her as we walked back to the nursing home. "I thought you still missed Grandpa Kane! Not a minute ago we were talking about him and there you are collecting phone numbers from strange florists!" I cried squeezing the marigolds tighter to my chest.
"It isn't like that, Ellie!" she said looking up at me. "I do miss Kane, I miss him very much!" she cried. "But that man was very nice to me, we were only flirting," she said making a face at me.
"But Grandma-!" I cried incredulously.
"Do you expect me to live alone and not talk to another man for the rest of my life?" she demanded. "I'm human, Ellie!"
"But Grandma-!"
"I'm lonely," she said looking up at me again. "I can't live the rest of my life by myself!"

"You have me!" I cried.
"It isn't the same," said Grandma Chris. "You know it isn't the same!"
"But what about Grandpa Kane?" I cried. "What would he think in heaven right now?" I demanded. "If I died and my husband started collecting phone numbers-"

"-After twelve years!" my grandmother stiffly cut me off. "I know my husband, he would want me to be happy, not pining away after him until I shriveled up and died!" she said with such vehemence I kept my mouth shut the whole walk.

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"What time is it, Rachel?" asks Mom leaning over from Dad again. "Shouldn't Christina be here by now?"
"Yes she should," I look back at my watch. "It is 1:49," I tell her. "They were supposed to be here a while ago."
"I'm going to go talk to the priest," Dad stood up and started for the church.
"So that's how it started?" asked Robyn after Dad had left. "Is that how Grandma Christina met and fell in love with Mr. Ramon?!"

"No," I tell her hugging her shoulders, "But that is the start of it," I tell her with a smile. "They started falling in love a little later, at first they were just flirting."
"Grandma Christina?" giggles Robyn. "Grandma can flirt?" she giggles into the palm of her hand. The earrings in her ears glint off the light of the sun.
I look up away from her and find Gloria, my sister, trailing after my Dad with a cup in her hand. They talk for a while, and then Dad disappears into the church.
I turn my head to the parking lot but I do not see Mark's car. I look away into my lap and sigh.
"So, you still haven't given me a good reason about why I should accept Grandma's marriage with Mr. Ramon!"
I look down at Robyn. "What?" I ask jolting from thoughts of Mark. "What?" I ask her again.
"Why should I believe that Mr. Ramon loves Grandma Christina and he isn't just sucking up on her money?"
"Mr. Ramon has money," says Mom with a smile. "He isn't rich but he isn't poor. He's well off, Robby."

I look at Mom and then at Robyn, "Grandma Chris loves him and that's all that matters, right? We want her to be happy, I know I do," I look out at the church.
"Man, I'm getting so hot," cries Mom looking down at Robyn. "Are you sweating in that dress?" she asks.
I see Robyn nod her head from the corner of my eye. "My dress sticks to my skin," she complains.
"What time is it, Rachel?"
"Mom! You asked me that just a second ago!" I groan looking at my watch. "The time hasn't changed, relax a little!" I tell her. "Grandma Chris and Mr. Ramon will be here, they can't ditch their wedding."
"Yeah, that would be dumb," says Robyn.
Mom starts fanning herself with her hand, "I'm sweating! My make-up is going to smear!" she cries looking at me.
Robyn giggles again.
"Grandma Chris and Mr. Ramon started seeing each other a lot. When I visited Grandma Chris she and I would walk to the Flower Shop. She and Mr. Ramon flirted and talked to each other, I hated it."
"I would've hit somebody!" Robyn cries angrily. "No one fools around with my grandmother!"
I laugh and so does Mom. -------------------------------------------------------------------

"The Flower Shop?" I cried. "Grandma Chris? Why are we going there again?" I cried as I looked up around the windows of her room. I saw tons of flowers, flowers piled to the ceiling almost. My jaw dropped, "Grandma!" I cried. "Just how many times did you go to that shop? Look at all of these flowers!" I cried.

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"She must've gone everyday," says Robyn with a sigh. "You should've stopped her, or at least made an attempt!"
"Oh, Robby, but I did!" I say looking up at the church. "I tried everything!"

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"He's ten years younger than you Grandma!" I cried whisking the flowers out of her arms. "Why are you seeing him? What would Grandpa Kane say about this?!" I cried shrilly.
"Give me my flowers!" cried Grandma reaching for them but I pulled them away.
"What you're doing is madness! You can't be serious about this florist, can you?" I cried angrily. "He's only playing up to you! Grandma Chris, you're worth more than these damn flowers! At least find someone your own age!"

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"Did she get mad at you when you said things like that?" Robyn interrupts me.
I look down at her then met the gaze of my mother, "I think so. We fought a lot then, those months were really hard."
"How does Mark tie into all of this, you've been leaving him out of the whole explanation!" Robyn crosses her arms over her chest and glares at me. "You have to tell me how this marriage is Mark's fault!"
"Mark," I say rubbing my back against the hard board of the chair. "Mark worked for Mr. Ramon, in fact, the Flower Shop was owned by Mr. Ramon. Mark and Mr. Ramon talked a lot, and Grandma Chris was the main things that they talked about," I close my eyes with a sigh as I speak. "It was Mark's idea to hook them up," I say.

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I glared at Mr. Ramon as my grandmother and he talked in the waiting room together. Grandma Chris was having an x-ray that day and had called me and Mr. Ramon to the hospital. I stood outside the patients' waiting room, watching the two of them with an ugly scowl on my face.
They can't be in love, I thought glaring at Mr. Ramon. How can Grandma Chris replace Grandpa Kane so easily? What does she see in that Mr. Ramon anyway?
That was when I saw Mark come down the hall. He had a bouquet of flowers in his hands and greeted me with a broad smile. "Hello," he said to me.
"What are you doing here?" I asked him surprised. "Don't tell me that my grandmother told you to come!"

"No, actually," he said hesitantly, "Actually I wanted to see and talk to you," he said and handed me the bouquet of marigolds.
I stared at them stupefied, "Why?" I stammered looking up in his eyes.
"I have an idea!" he said looking out the window where I was once just looking. He watched Grandma Chris and Mr. Ramon with a little smile on his face then he looked back at me. "Mr. Ramon is crazy about your grandmother," he said.
I made a face and watched the two old people hug each other. "I've noticed."
"Ever since your grandmother's been coming to the store, Mr. Ramon has been so happy! I've never seen him so happy in all my years working at the Flower Shop! He whistles when he's working and he's always smiling," Mark too was smiling.
I made a face at Mark. I thought Mark was silly for showing up at the hospital like he did. It made me angry. "Why are you telling me this?" I asked him.
"I have an idea and I want you to be part of it," he said grinning at me. "Your grandmother comes to the shop everyday now, and Mr. Ramon has left work a lot to see her in that nursing home," he said.
"Why are you telling me this?" I snapped at him.
"Does your grandma like Mr. Ramon?" he asked ignoring me.
"Yes! She's infatuated with him!" I snorted.
"You don't sound so happy about that, why? You're grandma looks pretty happy over there with him," he said cocking his head.
"Mr. Ramon is ten years younger than her!" I snapped at him. "Why are you encouraging them? My grandmother is a widow, Mr. Ramon needs to-!"
"Sounds like you're a little overly protective of her," said Mark gazing at me. I handed him back the flowers, "I don't want to hear your plan! I don't like Mr. Ramon hanging around my grandmother!" I told him and started to turn away.
"But hey-! They love each other, why not encourage it? I thought you'd like this," he said gently pulling me aside by the elbow. "Don't you want them to be happy?"
"Listen, this is none of your business!" I told him angrily. "I don't even know your name!" I cried up at him.
"Mark Loral," he answered stiffly.
"It doesn't matter, I don't even know you, how do you expect me to trust you with what goes on with Grandma Chris?" I demanded.
"I like Mr. Ramon, he's a good friend of mine. All he ever talks about is Christina, I can tell that he likes her!" said Mark grinning at me.
"Let go!" I cried and Mark let go of my elbow.
Then I glared up at him. "I don't know why you showed up here in the first place!" I cried.
Mark gave me back the flowers, "Have dinner with me tonight," he said. "I really think that this plan will work, but I need your help!" he said.
I stared at the flowers then glared at him. "Have dinner with you?" I cried.
Mark shrugged, "Why not? We can meet at the new place downtown, that new burger joint across the street from the music store, do you know what I'm talking about?" he asked.
I did but I pretended I didn't, and I didn't even know why. I wanted to eat dinner with Mark so why was I refusing? Maybe it was because he was trying to sabotage my grandmother with Mr. Ramon.
"I'll see you there, Ok? How about 7:00?" he asked me as he walked backwards, that smile never leaving his face. "Ok?" he asked me again.
There was something about Mark that stirred me. I nodded my head and hugged the bouquet to my chest. The bouquet had marigolds, marigolds of white, yellow, blue, and red with a little tag on the side that read; cheery colors.

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"When was that?" asks Mom.
"When was what?" I ask stiffly.
"Your date with Mark," she says with a smile. "You never told me that you went on a date with him that day Christina got her x-ray!"
"It wasn't a date!" I cry as I blush. "He only told me of his plan!" I say looking at my hands as I spoke. "Of course I refused it!"
"What was the plan?" asks Robyn pinching my elbow. "What was it? What did he say?" she asks me excitedly.

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"Rachel Foster," he repeated with a smile. "Finally I know your name now," he said leaning on his hands as he spoke to me.
I pretended to be busy with the menu, "So-!" I said sharply. "What is this grand plan that you were talking about earlier today?" I asked him.
"How about marriage?" he said bluntly.
"What-?" I dropped the menu staring at him. "What? Have you gone crazy! You want me to help you so they can get married?!" I cried in a shrill voice.
Mark nodded casually, "Why not?" he grinned at me.
"No!" I cried standing up. "No! Mr. Ramon is not going to marry my grandmother, she isn't that stupid!" I cried angrily.
"Why are you so defensive?" asked Mark looking up at me. "What don't you like about Mr. Ramon? He's a really nice guy!" he said.
"To date with him is one thing but to marry him is completely different!" I cried.
"They love each other," Mark said with a shrug. "I don't see why it matters."

"No!" I cried shaking my head. "No! I can't help you!" and with that I strode away from him.

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"What made you change your opinion about Mr. Ramon?" says Robyn's little voice. Her eyes are wide as she looks at me now.
"Grandma Chris," I answer with a sigh.
"That whole episode was a month ago, wasn't it?" Mom asks me. "So, tell me more about you and Mark."
"Why?" I cry angrily. "Why does it matter about Mark? He's not important!"

At that moment I saw Dad walking towards us. Dad looks a little worried but he doesn't say anything to anyone. "Will?" asks Mom.
"The priest is getting tired of waiting," Dad hangs his head. "He says he'll leave in another hour if they don't show up. I called Mother but no one answered the phone! Where could they be?"

Robyn pulls my sleeve, "Is Mr. Ramon a good man, Auntie?" she asks me.
"I know that he cares for Grandma Chris, if that's what you mean," I say to her. "What is it you want to know this time?"
"Tell me what changed your mind about him," Robyn says reflectively. "You seem so adamant about his relationship with Grandma Christina but now you're all for them to get married! I don't understand!"
I sigh and look at my hands, "To be honest, it was Mark," I look up to see if my parents are looking or listening, they aren't, they're busy talking, so I continue.

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I was determined to ruin their relationship, as selfish as it sounds. I did not want Grandma Chris replacing Grandpa Kane! I just couldn't bear the thought of her getting married again. Even weeks after she announced their engagement.
I blamed Mark for it. I remember going to the Flower Shop and just being really rude to him and Mark always smiled at me and proposed a date, which I normally accepted. I came to the Flower Shop to yell at Mark and even so we still saw each other, I don't know what was wrong with me. Maybe Mark understood, maybe he didn't, but I do know that he knew more about Mr. Ramon and Grandma Chris than I did. By that time I had stopped visiting Grandma altogether because I was mad at her engagement. Childish, I know, but I was distraught.
Mark was elated at his success in bringing them together. It was Mark who went to the jeweler store with Mr. Ramon to buy my grandmother the engagement ring.
I thought that I hated Mark but in reality I knew I didn't. Otherwise I wouldn't have always said yes to when he asked me out. I was happy for Grandma Chris and Mr. Ramon but I couldn't bring myself to express it openly. I knew it wasn't fair for me to think that Grandma Chris should spend the rest of her life as an old woman by herself, she was right. She is human and no human wants to live alone like that. I was being selfish, but I didn't realize it until the wedding day. Today.

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I sigh now and bring my hands to my face. "No more questions, Robby, I'm getting tired!" I say into my hands.
"Auntie, you never said what made you change your feelings about Mr. Ramon!"
"Robby," I still said into my hands. "Mr. Ramon isn't a bad man, he cares for Grandma Chris, anyone can see it. It's just that I didn't want Grandpa Kane being replaced," I peek through my fingers at my niece. "I was selfish."
"Well, then we both are," she says hugging me, I hug her back.

After a minute or so I let go of her and look down on her. "Do you feel any better about this marriage?"
"Yeah, but there's one thing," she says to me. "What happened between my Auntie Rachel and Mark? Why isn't he here? Shouldn't he of all people be present for this wedding?" she asks.
I look into my hands again. "Mark isn't important, Robby. Don't talk about him anymore," I say quietly.
"Why? Did you two get in a fight?"
"Yes," I tell her with a sigh. "Yes, we did."

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It was the eve of the wedding when I spoke to both Grandma Chris and Mark. I stormed over to the Flower Shop and stopped in front of Mark. Mark had soil smeared on his face when I arrived, he must've been planting something.
"They're getting married tomorrow!" I snap at him. "This is all of your fault!"
Mark comes to the counter and smiles at me, "Yes, it's my entire fault, and I'm happy for it. Did you come to congratulate me?" he asked.
The whole strain and tension just bubbled out of me and I let Mark have it all. I don't remember all of what I said but I remember telling him not to come to the wedding and not to come near me or my grandmother ever again. I don't remember all of it but I know the strong points I said.
He looked mad and shouted some things back at me but I wasn't listening. We had a stormy brawl of insults and accusations before I stomped away and back into my car. I remember driving real fast to the nursing home to where Grandma Chris was having her wedding party.
I took Grandma Chris and closed her in a room with just her and me and cried out to her that she couldn't marry Mr. Ramon, but then she told me that she loved him and I stopped and went home.
If I weren't a woman I would've cried that night. I was so stupid and childish, the way I handled the situation was immature of me. Yet I did it anyway because I wasn't thinking.
I was selfish and blind. If Grandpa Kane were still alive he'd probably beat me over the head with a brick.

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Robyn was very quiet. She squeezed my hand.
I wish I could apologize to Mr. Ramon, Grandma, and Mark. I was so stupid with all three of them! I think to myself as I look out at the church.
Suddenly someone yells, "The bride and groom are here! They've arrived! They're here!"

Mom jumps up and stops fanning herself. "Finally!" she laughs taking Dad's arm and up to the church.
Robyn and I walk slowly. I am a little ashamed for what I have done. I don't want to have to look in Grandma Chris's eyes.
"Don't feel bad, Auntie," says thirteen-year-old Robyn.
I smile at her and kiss her lightly on the forehead, "That's life I guess," I sigh.
We enter the church and sit down in the aisles. The organ begins to play and finally the ceremony begins at 2:09.

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"You may now kiss the bride," says the priest closing the book and smiling round on everybody.
Mr. Ramon pulls the veil off of Grandma and kisses her. I wipe a tear from my eye and clap the loudest amongst the crowd of family.
Grandma and Mr. Ramon walk back down the aisles laughing and holding on to each other while I watch. Grandma Chris looks at me as she passes, and smiles at me.
Relived I smile back then I notice in her hand that she has a bouquet of marigolds. Marigolds of red, blue, white, and yellow.
I leave with the dispersing crowd seeing off the newlywed couple to the waiting limousine parked by the lawn. We all wave as they pile into the car shutting the door, then a window rolls down and I see Grandma laughing to me.
"Ellie!" she says leaning out the window and throwing the bouquet. "These are for you!" she laughs.
I catch the bouquet and wave to my grandmother. The limousine speeds away into the distance. I clutch the flowers close to my chest with a smile on my face.
From behind, I hear my family going to the picnic tables to celebrate. I remain by the curb with the marigolds in my arms. I stay there for a long while, looking in the direction that Grandma Chris left, knowing that by now she was far, far, away, off to a new life.
"Rachel."
I gasp and turn around. I drop the marigolds to the floor. "Mark!" I say breathlessly.
Mark is in his tuxedo with his hands inside his pockets. He smiles at me, bends down and scoops up the flowers that I dropped. "Here," he says giving them to me.
I stare into the marigolds, "Mark." I say softly.
"Forget it," he says putting his large gentle hand on my shoulder. "Christina and Mr. Ramon are married, they're beginning a new life together."
I look up at him and nod my head, "Yes, I know that. I've learned to accept it."
He grins now and gently takes my hand in his, "I'm sure Kane is happy for her like everyone else."

"Yes, he probably is," I say with a smile.
"Let's celebrate with the others," he says.
"A new life for Grandma Christina so we should start over that way too," I say squeezing his hand a bit. "Let's celebrate for a new beginning, now."
Mark smiles at me, "Yeah, a new beginning."