‘I tricked my husband into giving me the anniversary gift I wanted’

Once upon a time, a long time ago, men brought flowers to their ladies. In fact, it was the done thing. Thirty years ago, my young husband, who worked in the Sydney CBD, carried flowers home to me on the bus. Although he enjoyed buying me flowers, he soon stopped because he became embarrassed by the giggles and jokes from the older ladies on the bus. He was the object of their pointed finger.

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Then he picked flowers from our garden. But neighbours and friends told him to his face he was too stingy to pay for a bunch of flowers. He soon stopped. There were no ‘ring and deliver’ florists, and besides, we could not afford them if there were.

I didn’t receive flowers from him for many, many years. I complained and continued to complain until our tenth anniversary. ‘Ring and deliver’ florists were available now to do his work. His receptionist ordered the flowers and the florist delivered them. He didn’t even write the card — the florist did. I would have been happier with a weed, if only he had bent over and picked it from the garden himself.

Finally he did.

“Just to shut you up!” he said as he presented me with a weed from our garden. We had been married 15 years. I kept that weed, which happened to be a statice flower, and nurtured it lovingly for two years. He saw it every time he came into my kitchen. It sat relaxed and happy in my glass of water, on the window sill, above my sink.

Years went by, and now his private secretary remembered our dates, did the ordering, wrote the card, and the cheque. Only when he came home and saw the flowers did he realise it was a special day. Sometimes he couldn’t even remember why ‘he’ had  bought the flowers. This was not my idea of contented marital bliss, and after almost 30 years it had to stop.

This year I wanted something that cost him a little effort. As a 30-year-housewife, I deserved it. I wanted him to DO something. I tried asking him, begging him, insisting, but to no avail. He couldn’t understand why I complained. I received flowers, didn’t I? What more did I want?

I rang his secretary and cancelled those anniversary flowers.

I sent him a rose instead.

It was a beautiful red rose packed in its own cellophane cylinder. I wanted everyone at work to see it. I loved the thought of the office mates’ taunting, and his discomfiture on delivery of my rose.

What could he do with it? He didn’t know, so he brought it home to me.

“What did you send me this stupid rose for?” he asked as he waved that beautiful flower at me.

“Darling, you remembered! It is our thirtieth anniversary and you remembered to bring me a flower yourself.”

I kissed him. The look on his face was priceless. I had won. He himself had personally delivered this flower. I took a photo of him with my red rose. I was so proud. That rose had cost me 30 years of planning.

It was my 30-year rose.

Josephine Licciardello is one of five finalists in Uniting’s Senior Memoirs Writing Competition. You can read the other four stories here and vote for your favourite here. Voting closes on September 29 at 3pm AEST.