The True Story that Inspired Flowers of Grace

Posted on Jan 24, 2015 | 2 comments

A hibiskus inspired the Flowers of Grace. Photo Credit: Dollar Photo Club

Flowers of Grace is a novel inspired by a a true story, but the cover could read  “inspired by a real plant.”

Several years ago I received a hibiscus plant from a woman receiving hospice care for cancer. I met Lily when I accompanied my husband on a visit to her home. I didn’t know her well, but I returned another day with a pot of homemade turkey noodle soup.

I sat on the little stool beside Lily’s bed and listened to her talk, even though I couldn’t understand much of what this tiny Filipino woman said.

On another visit she told me she wanted to give me her hibiscus plant. She can’t give this beautiful flowering plant to me, I thought. she doesn’t even know me.

I nodded, and to humor her, I said, “I’ll pick it up one day when I have a bigger vehicle and my husband can lift it for me.”

Because I felt uncomfortable, I never went to get the plant. Besides, I was sure she’d forget. Two weeks later, we visited again. I sat on the stool and said, “Remember me?”

“You never came and got your plant,” she chastised.

“I will take it; thank you.”

“You never say thank you for a plant,” she told me.

I didn’t understand what she meant so I kept nodding and saying, “Thank you.”

Her courage, faith and spunk to face death inspired me to forget myself. I promised her husband I would be by soon to pick up the plant.

Of course, my busy life got in the way.

Days before I was to host a house tour for 300 people, I remembered the plant. I knew I needed to go.

Again, I worried. I rationalized. I said to the voice within me, “I won’t have time until Sunday.”

To quiet it, I asked my husband, “Will you go with me on Sunday?” When he agreed, I checked it off my to-do list.

Still, I was impressed to not wait but to go get the plant that very day. This time I trusted, and I went.

At first, no one came to the door. Then, one of Lily’s daughters—one I didn’t know well—came for the mail. I hesitated but introduced myself and told her why I had come. She helped me take the plant.

The next day we received word that Lily had died.

I don’t know why I needed to receive that plant before her death. Was it important for her to know someone would nurture it? Was it important for me to know that my service was valued?

I still don’t know why, but that’s not the end of the story.

I took the plant home, found it a sunny location and nurtured it for more than a year. It bloomed with multiple red blooms that cheered me with the fruits of my labors.

The spot I chose, however, was too far away for me to see it every day and notice when it became dry from indoor winter heat. When I did notice, I moved it to a better place and tried to restore it to good health. After a few weeks I knew that it would not survive.

I was devastated. How could I kill this important plant rich with meaning?

Sometimes, despite all our best efforts to find sunny locations, nurture, water and feed our own plants, they die.

Then an idea came. Within this experience was a bigger story I wanted to tell—what happens to a plant with a legacy and the woman who receives it?

New life springs from death and inspired Flowers of Grace.


  1. “Flowers of Grace” is a book that I know I would enjoy reading very much. I am a cancer survivor now for 3 years and during all my treatments I made some friends that I still stay in touch with and I feel that we helped each other a lot to get thru everything. I know they enriched my life just by becoming a friend.

    I love to read, crochet, and knit. I am 68 years young and retired, married 38 years and a mother of 1 son, and at this time have no grandchildren.

    I found out about your book “Flowers of Grace” on the site. I enjoy going to to see what is new coming out, and to enter the give-a-ways that are offered. I entered to win a copy of your book and am hoping to win a copy to read. I will be sure to give a review of the book and if I don’t win a copy from there, I will try to get a copy and still give a review.

    Thanks for giving your book away,
    A new fan,

    • Thank you for stopping by to share your story! And for fans like you, I’m offering another giveaway opportunity to with the ebook version of Flowers of Grace. Here’s how to enter for a chance to win by leaving a comment on this post. (Winners will be chosen at random from commenters on the post.) Good luck to you in continued good health and happy reading!

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