My father-in-law was one of those reserved, gruff, proper Bostonians. He loved to dance, (ever heard of dancing pumps...yeah, he had those) anything Harvard, and most of all my mother-in-law, Jane. On special occasions he would present her with a pretty white box containing a gardenia corsage.
On my first New Year's Eve as a Sheldon, he gave one to me as well. I felt so welcomed. It was a gesture that touched my heart.
Our daughters have now received a few of their own, always followed by me telling about Grandpop and his penchant for them. When Claire wore one in her hair at a formal dance, she came home to tell us how she danced with a young man who stopped dancing, and standing back, shook his head in amazement, "you smell soooo good". She explained it was the gardenia, and we all smiled, thinking about how Gandpop would have liked to hear that story.
It's always about the gardenia.