A letter to my grandchildren
by Mrs. Thelma Jenkins
Dear Emma and Charles,
This is a story about an *antirrhinum. Do you know what kind of flower that is? If I say that many people call them "snap- dragons". I expect you will know at once what I mean.
I think I told you what Aunty Val called them when she was a little girl. We were going on holiday in the car, possibly to *Devon or *Cornwall. (That may have been the time that, as we turned a corner of the road, Aunty Val said, "Look, Mummy! The moon's going the same way that we are going!") It was a long journey so, to keep your Mummy and Aunty Val quiet (they were only little girls then), we were playing at "shops" in the back of the car. When it was Aunty Val's turn she said, "Please could I have some of those flowers that go `bitey-bitey'". At first we could not think what she meant and then we realised that she meant snap-dragons, because of the way you can squeeze them and make their mouths open. I know your Mummy had some in her garden this year, because we knocked one of the heads off when we were playing with Charles' football. (That was the time I sent the ball into the next-door garden and we had to go and ask the lady to give it back to us. What a naughty thing for a Grandma to do!)
Well, to return to the antirrhinum, I had to go to Bexley the other day. I parked my car and was walking to the shop when I suddenly saw a crimson antirrhinum growing in a crack in the paving stones, just near the board that said "SHERIDAN ROAD". It was a very hot afternoon with the sun blazing down, yet this little flower was growing bravely there all on its own. Last summer, a seed must have been blown along the road from the gardens further down and dropped into the crack in the paving stones. A tiny seed (even smaller than the full-stops on this page), yet there was life in that speck of a seed. The rain had fallen into the crack, the sun had *penetrated and it had managed to grow in that most unsuitable place, sending its roots down into the earth beneath the pavement.
As I went past, I said, "I don't suppose you like growing there. I'm sure you would rather be growing in a lovely garden - in fact, why not in mine?" So, when I had finished at the shop I stopped and very gently pulled at the antirrhinum. I was afraid that its root might snap off, but it didn't. It gradually kept coming, all three-and-a-half inches of it, and I put it in the car. By the time I reached hone, it was drooping badly, for the car was very hot, but I made a deep hole in the damp earth so that its roots could stretch down. I gave it a stick to lean its droopy head on and a good drink of water. When I went to bed, it was no longer drooping and the next morning, no-one would know it had been moved. I planted it between a small white *dahlia and a pretty pink and mauve *fuchsia and I am sure it likes its new home better than its old one. Here, it has sun in the morning and shade from the tall pine and acacia trees in the afternoon.
I couldn't help thinking that there was quite a *parable in all this. (A parable is a story that explains something else to us, usually something about God or the things of God. There are many parables in the Bible which the Lord Jesus taught when He was on the earth.) This, I think, is a parable about death. When a Christian that we love dies, we naturally feel sad for ourselves, because we shall not see them any more. But for them it is not sad, because they have been taken out of this sinful world where there is so much that is hard and cruel and they have been taken to live with the Lord Jesus. Just as I took that little flower out of the hard, stony place where it was living - a horrid place for a flower - and planted it, instead, in a cool garden, so the Lord says to His children, "Come. You have lived long enough in this hard and wicked world. Now I am going to take you to be with Me, for ever and ever, and you will live in My lovely Heaven where there will be no more pain or sorrow or tears or trouble."
I expect when the antirrhinum was lying on the seat in my car, hot and drooping and feeling that it would soon die, it wished I had left it alone. But when it found itself planted firmly in the moist earth, with other flowers round it and sheltered from the burning sun by the lovely shade, I am sure it was much happier. Perhaps, when the time comes for us to die, we feel sad and afraid and wish we could stay where we are, because we know about this life and we are not sure about after death. But, if we love and trust the Lord Jesus and if we have asked Him to make us clean from our sins, when the time comes for us, or any Christian, to die, I am sure He says to us what He said to the thief on the cross, "Today, thou shalt be with Me in Paradise." We do not know what Paradise or Heaven are like, but to be there will certainly be a thousand times lovelier than being taken from the hot, dry paving stones and being put in a cool, shady garden.
Next time you come to visit me, I will show you this very special antirrhinum and, if I can, I will take some seeds and you can plant some in your garden next year. You will be surprised to see how very, very tiny they are.
That's all for now as it is time for tea, which I shall have in the garden. Then I shall walk around and look at my new antirrhinum and at all the other flowers - the pink and white *Japanese anemones and the *phlox, the *montbretia and *dahlias and, of course, the roses. When it is cooler, I shall probably help Grandpa to pick the blackberries.
With love from us both, as always,
* The words marked by a star can be looked up in the dictionary if you do not know their meaning.
Copyright © Family Matters 1997