Albert was a man who loved flowers. Now other people may scoff at the opinion that plants have emotions, but not Albert. He knew it for a fact. He was a gardener at the college I attended, and I do believe he had an intimate friendship with just about every tree, shrub, bush and flower on campus. No matter how scraggly or scruffy a plant might appear Albert could make it better.
He especially liked to tend the rose garden near my dorm. As my friends and I would walk to class, he'd chide us about taking better care of our potted plants -- good-naturedly, of course. And by and by, we all came to look forward to his cheery hello and helpful words of advice. Albert always knew exactly how to care for a wilted philodendron or sagging ivy. No matter how busy he was, he would have the time to chat or listen to a problem. It didn't take long before each of us in the dorm felt that this man who was every plant's best friend was our friend, too.
I recall a day near graduation time when I was sitting on the dorm porch, my head filled with memories of the good times I had enjoyed on campus -- the parties and debates over cokes, the late-night pizzas and the comraderies made in four years. Albert happened to come by just then and, noticing me, stopped to visit for a few minutes -- or so I thought. What he had to say was not, "How's economics coming along?" or, "Have you heard about that job you applies for?" Instead, he said he had a graduation present especially for me. There in the garden, Albert pointed to my present -- a rose bush in full bloom. "It's all yours," he exclaimed.
"Mind?" I said, puzzled. "You're not going to dig it up, are you?" Uprooting a plant, to Albert, was a sacrilege.
"Oh, no," he continued. "But I told this very plant that it belonged to a special lady. She was going to be leaving this place soon, but would be back to visit from time to time. I hear roses mean remembering, and I guess, maybe, they do."
"Yes, Albert, they do," I thought. And although I suspected every girl who was graduating that year received "her" rose bush for a gift, I couldn't help but feel that somehow it was really mine.
It's been a few years now since I left school, but every spring I go back to campus for a visit to see old friends, teachers, my rose bush and Albert. He was right. The roses have helped me to remember time and time again how a man who loved flowers made that campus a very happy place.