Dandelions


Dandelions are my favorite flower.
Whenever I see a lawn chemical truck,
or have to mow over new dandelion flowers I feel a little sad.
They remind me of Trisha.

I am a counselor at a camp for handicapped children
and one of my goals is to talk to each of the campers every day.
It has always been a policy of our camp to take any campers
that would have trouble adapting to another camp.
This means when you approach a new camper
you are never sure what kind of response you will receive.
We have had children who are deaf, blind, mute,
and all different levels of physical, mental, and emotional handicaps.
But no matter what challenges each camper has brought
we have always adapted enough to make it a week of growth for everyone.

This year I noticed a new camper sitting with the group,
but not interacting.
I walked up and said "Hi, I'm Dan, what's your name ?".
She didn't answer but proudly showed me her name tag.
I responded "Hi Trisha, I'm glad you're here !"

Well, I must have been the first one to talk to her
because from that moment on
whenever Trisha saw me she was right by my side.
She ate with us, went on hikes with us,
and when we sat down for a rest she was always right there.

Trisha was a cute little girl who happen to have Cerebral Palsy.
She could walk, with a severe limp,
and she could not talk.
She had trouble with her muscle control
and sometimes ate sloppily.
But she could communicate with her smile
and her attitude.
Every time you saw her there was a huge smile on her face.
She was determined not to let the cerebral palsy hold her back.
She wanted to do everything.
We had a 3/4 mile walk to the dining hall and
she insisted that she walk it.
She did not want to take the bus
we used to transport those who had trouble with that distance.
She insisted on walking,
even when she was in severe pain.

On the first day of camp I saw Trisha struggle
to bend over and pick up a yellow dandelion flower.
My initial reaction was, we are in the woods, it's spring,
there are all kinds of beautiful wild flowers blooming.
Why would she want a dandelion ?
She took the yellow weed and put it in her coat pocket.

After the week was over and parents were coming to pick the children up,
I saw Trisha crying.
I walked over to her,
I was going to tell her that we would see her next year.
But what she did when I approached her
was more powerful then any words I could have used.
She reached into her pocket,
removed her prized, and by now slightly mutilated, dandelion,
and gave it to me.

Even if I had wanted to I could not have responded,
I was choked up with tears.
I took the dandelion stuck it in my shirt pocket
with the flower sticking out.
To me it was more beautiful then any rose or carnation could have been.

Why do I love dandelions?
Because they remind me of Trisha
and of all the other dandelions of the world.
We all know them,
and at times we have probably been one.
They are the people who, when you see them,
it is easy to turn your head and walk away.
They are used to being ignored,
and don't expect attention.
They are the handicapped, the old,
the unpopular, the hurting.
It's easy to be nice to the popular, beautiful people.
Everyone wants to wear a rose in their lapel.
Everyone wants to be part of the "in" crowd.
But Jesus didn't hang out with the roses and carnations,
he hung out with the dandelions.

Let's see if today we can put dandelions in our lapels.

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by Daniel Roth 1998

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