Behind the Wheel: Flowers for a Farmer’s Daughter

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It’s a Saturday morning at 4:30 a.m. The dew drips slowly down the front windshield of a white cargo van. The keys softly chatter among themselves as they enter the ignition, ready for a ride. The driver rubs her hands before grabbing the wheel. Her wedding band is still adjusting to its new position—it slides up and down as her cold hands work together to find warmth. She looks around the van, checking to make sure she has everything for her destination. It’ll be an hour and a half drive before she gets there, and when she does arrive, it will still be dark.

Most others her age live in the city, crawling into bed at 4:30 on a Saturday morning. She drives a white cargo van while they sleep soundly from the alcohol and dancing. The other 25-year-olds don’t have a job to do at 4:30 on a Saturday morning, but she does every week. She uses this time on the road to think, it keeps her awake.

She has thoughts of her dying mother. Weeks before her wedding was the first seizure, then a stroke, then a diagnosis. Now, the same flowers she’ll sell at the market will soon lie near her mom’s grave. How could it be so? Just last year she was traveling in Panama without worries or responsibilities. Now, she works the markets, she cuts the flowers, she drives the white van. A resound vibration brings the girl back and she steers into her lane, avoiding the uncomfortable shaking from the rumble strip.

San Francisco is 30 miles away– she still has time to think. What will happen to the family business? Her two sisters don’t want the farm as much as she does. Their dad is weary. Soon, his heart will be broken, his wife gone, and he won’t farm anymore. It’s up to her and her husband to make things right. They will farm, they will sell flowers, they will drive the white vans up and down California’s coast. She knows she can’t keep her mom alive, but she can keep the farm alive.

It’s 5:45 as she crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, entering into a quiet San Francisco. It’s the city she once lived in as a new college graduate, staying up until 5:45 in the morning. Now she is just a visitor, selling flowers at markets. Just a visitor with a dying mom, a new husband, and a fading farm. She slows down as she approaches other vans unloading their produce.When the car stops, she gets out and opens the back doors. All those thoughts fade away as she smells the irresistible berry fragrance of the sweet peas, and then, the sunflowers smile at her.

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