Kate Carver is assistant manager of our Harrisburg East store, but on this January Sunday she was filling in at Royer’s sister store, Stephenson’s Flowers & Gifts on Jonestown Road near Harrisburg.
As sometimes happens on Sundays, the store was quiet for a spell until two customers came in, one after the other.
The man, in his 30s, told Kate of his impending military deployment. That night, there was to be a going-away party in his honor. He wanted flowers for the family he would be leaving behind: his wife, 5-year-old daughter, and 2-year-old son.
He was emotional, Kate said. He wasn’t crying, but he was nervous and there was a catch in his voice. He had been overseas before but not since his children had been born.
“He said, ‘It’s definitely feeling different,’ ” Kate said. He said he could not say where he was headed this time.
Meanwhile, the other customer, a woman, browsed while Kate and the man talked. Kate said she would be with the woman shortly, but the woman betrayed no impatience.
The man settled on a mixed bouquet for his wife, a rose with filler and a bow for his daughter, and a Gerbera daisy for his son. He added smiling stick-in balloons for each of the children.
The woman had overheard the conversation. As Kate began to ring up the man’s order, the woman rushed over to the counter.
“I’d like to take care of that,” the woman said.
No, no, no, the man said. That isn’t necessary.
Please, it’s the least I can do for your service, the woman insisted.
The man, the woman, and Kate teared up. The man and the woman hugged.
The man gathered up his flowers and headed out. Kate sensed that he was on the verge of breaking down with emotion.
The next day, Kate sent the woman a bouquet of tulips.
“It was one of those moments that I wanted to thank her for creating that moment,” Kate said.