“I’ve been robbed!’ These are the only words artist/performer Cliff can utter as he walks toward his Dodge van, noticing that the air-vent window on the driver’s side has been pushed in at an odd angle. It’s about 4:30 a.m. Good Friday, April 1, 1994.
Rushing around the vehicle to open the side doors, he begins to take inventory of what’s missing: sound equipment including a stereo mixer, a professional-grade tape player, a recorder and at least 150 treasured CDs missing from cases. An envelope with cash – gone. All gone! He walks frantically around the parking lot of the Quality Inn he is leaving and spots a black suitcase, which the thieves have thrown into a ravine. Empty!
It was the end of a very productive month presenting 35 multi-media school assembly programs in Florida and Georgia. Cliff had driven to Nashville, Tennessee because his next shows would be in the Memphis area. He had been looking forward to boarding a 6:00 a.m. Delta flight to come home on Good Friday and spend Easter weekend with his family. This weekend, however, turned out to be a mixed blessing – The splendor of the resurrection service at church conflicted with the discordant thoughts about his recent loss: Lost equipment, lost musical discs, remembering malfunctioning hotel parking lights that had probably contributed to the thieves finding his van easy prey. And after all, it was Nashville, music city.
After returning to the Nashville airport after Easter to continue his itinerary, he takes stock. Though the robbery has felt like a violation, a form of rape actually, he could count his blessings: 1. His CD player vital to the music that accompanies his drawing was in a separate case, undisturbed and 2. He had copies of program music at his home base, Jacksonville.
Still reeling from the impact of the loss of inanimate “friends” that provided the musical score to his chalk drawing on a large easel, he must soldier on toward St. Louis, Missouri for next week’s shows. Behind the wheel again, he popped in a cassette tape, a musical companion on the long hauls between cities: soaring classical music and uplifting hymns, a distraction from the recent robbery. His itinerary takes him through Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where his journal notations begin:
The undulating ribbon of asphalt in Interstate 55, the hum of the van engine, rumbling of tires, and rushing air together with the music combined their forces to calm my mind . . . . Now a spot of yellow caught my attention. Was it litter – or something else? The blurry image that I imagine are daffodils soon vanished from my side view mirror.
I keep driving but feel an urgency to turn around. The nest of daffodils keep calling me. “Come back. Don’t go another mile. You may miss a special moment in your life, a moment that can put a special gladness in your heart.
Finally, he turns around at the next exit, heading south, as he wonders, “How far had I traveled since I had seen the flowers? I honestly had no idea, but I retraced my path even farther than I thought necessary to spot those daffodils again.” He gives up and heads north again. But feeling a tug even more insistent, he turns the van around one more time.
Passing over the exit I continued searching, almost holding my breath. My jaw set, my eyes straining for anything yellow.
I nervously looked at my watch. I could not believe that two hours had passed since first sighting those images of hope. Miles and time seem to merge together. My odometer indicated I had gone 120 miles since first turning back. What was I to do? It was getting late; I had to get to St. Louis soon.
And then ahead I saw it—a flash of golden yellow. My heart leaped with joy—It was there after all, several clumps of daffodils, but I saw two huddled together, spring-like beauties, raising their slender pastel green fingers, lifting golden heads to the heavens!
The next challenge: Finding a container and extracting the two daffodils from the hard soil without a trowel or shovel.
With traffic whizzing by and like a mad man on a single mission, I quickly swung open the back and side doors of the van, and found a plastic one-gallon container of spring water. Out gurgled the water. Then, I rummaged through my tool bag until I found a razor blade to cut out the topside portion of the jug.
How to dig up the daffodils though?
Once again, I dashed back to the van and from deep within my jungle of sound and art equipment, boxes and bags, I pulled out an aluminum yardstick. With both hands on my innovative shovel, I vigorously dug down deep into the damp soil and rock encasing the two flowers. After leveraging the living plants into a plastic bag, I carefully placed them into the jug, watering the daffodils and even hiding them in bushes outside overnight for safe-keeping at hotel rest stops before the next trip home.
On this Saturday, April 9, 1994 my husband spent 2 ¼ hours driving an extra 125 miles to capture in real time this evidence of hope and then later spent more hours penning this story in a travelogue entitled “I Stopped Beside the Road Today.”
The robbers did their dirty deed in an unlighted parking lot and left no evidence of their identity behind. Yet, Cliff searched for beauty among the rubble and found it, proof of the hope it represents.
I have saved the dried-up daffodils, one headless, in a blue vase for 21 years.
And I can’t find it in me – at least not yet – to destroy these bedraggled tendrils – evidence of a Bad Friday turned Good!
Have you ever been robbed? Have you lost something so valuable you searched and searched? Here’s where to tell your story!
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Links to Cliff Beaman, artist – http://americanartassemblies.com
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Bonus: Tradition has it that the daffodil, the Lent Lily, will open on Ash Wednesday and die on Easter Day. In a poem entitled The Lent Lily, A. E. Housman writes of the daffodil as a yellow trumpet heralding the glories of spring.
Coming next: Our Easter in Ukraine
What a sweet story Marian. Thanks for sharing. Denise B.
Thanks for visiting here, Denise. On Saturday you\’ll hear about another adventure, this one with a different twist.
I was delighted to read that Cliff keeps a journal.
I was stirred to read that he\’d gone back — miles and hours — to find beauty.
I was beyond jaw-dropped impressed when I followed the artist link you provided and watched the \”Patriotic Performance\” video.
My hat is off to Cliff!
He\’ll be pleased to hear this. And I\’ll tell him you doffed your hat too!
Another daffodil story 🙂 Hope in beauty, beauty in hope. 🙂
Daffodils, with their nosy trumpets, are perfectly shaped to proclaim hope and joy, don\’t you think? Oh, and beauty too.
I understand you though. We have this thing about pink roses in my family. They grow wild in GA, the red clay road banks are covered with the and they bloom every May around Mother\’s Day. We used to pick them for my mother and my kids picked them for me. MY daughter and I shared an apartment after moving to Florida for a couple of years and we planted a bush. They were blooming when I moved away in 2006. There is still a dried bouquet of them on my kitchen widow sill.
I suspect sentiment over-rules sense in our cases. I didn\’t know pink rose bushes grow wild in Georgia; from what you say, I\’m guessing the red clay soil has something to do with it.
What an adventure. I have never been robbed but I can imagine the pain of loss and violation. Praise God that he gave you beauty in the middle of loss. God has his way of doing that. So glad you could enjoy your Easter. Pray you have a nice one this weekend.
Finding beauty seems more necessary to balance great loss, one lesson this story teaches. Thank you, Gloria – and Happy Easter to you and your family too!
If this is a repeat comment Marian I\’m sorry. Commented earlier using cell phone, then I don\’t know what happened.
I so enjoyed this thank you. Finding the gold in among the rabble … and taking the time to do so …
I\’ve often stopped at the side of the road out in the country to look at fields of curious cosmos, or smiling sunflowers upturned to the sun, and once or twice plucked a few lilies from a verge.
Also, I\’ve lost valuable things before and knew they\’d be gone forever. But almost as I surrendered to that thought I would never find them again, and must be resigned to this, I would find them – in the very places I\’d looked before.
You are coming through loud and clear, Susan – and only once in this post thread, so no worries! You description of lost things found sounds magical. Happy Easter, Susan, to you and your family!
I was burgled towards the end of last year.Among the items stolen was a Fossil watch my wife had bought me in America ( she died 2 years ago on 30th March) which I can\’t replace, an Albert watch chain of my grandfathers,irreplaceable and some coins I was saving for my grandson. Nothing else mattered apart from the violation of my privacy. Thieves don\’t realise, and probably don\’t care, that they take much more than property when they steal. They can take your peace of mind to and it takes a long time to regain that.
xxx Huge Hugs xxx
I happen to know Fossil watches are very expensive, but as you say, the loss of property can\’t compare to the loss of irreplaceable, priceless heirlooms and along with it peace of mind. My condolences to you in the loss of your wife. This season of the year must be very hard for you. Thanks for sharing, David.
Thanks, Marian, for this story, so sad and yet so full of hope. I love Daffodils and was glad he found them.
Like life in general, the sad and the glad are intermingled. Thanks for reading and commenting here, Anita.
Wow, what a search and I\’m sure it played a role in his healing. Interesting career in sketching for elementary and middle school audiences!! Thanks for sharing this story, especially for Easter. Our toughest Easter is a story I don\’t tell in public, related to the loss of our babysitter\’s son. I\’m glad for this reminder to be mindful of all those going through difficult times through this Easter season.
Your comment here and writing on your own posts reveal such a caring heart. Thanks for the reminder to be aware and to show empathy, Melodie.
How alfull for you and yet in the end you win over those robbers with your find of those two daffodils . Such tough flowers ….I love them they are my favourite. Are they really all those years old ?
We had all the wheels on our car stolen from outside our house once .We were going away for a romantic weekend ,my mother in law was looking after our toddler son , at the time . We had to cancel the weekend and it took the whole of the weekend to sort the car out .
Yes, I do not lie – the daffodils are/were 21 years old, but I have a confession to make – since I wrote the story I tossed them. I have an both an electronic photo and this blog post I can refer to if necessary.
So sorry about the tires on your car. Hideous! I hope you and your husband made up for the romantic weekend at another time, Cherry.
What wonderfully inspiring story – it moved me to tears.
Though it happened quite a while ago, the truth remains. I\’m so happy it inspired you in some way.
Beautiful and touching story, Marian! Happy Easter to you and the man you love.
Nice to see that smile again, Sherrey. Thank God for spring, season of refreshment and renewal. Happy Easter to you and Bob too!
A delightful story, Marian. One that ends with hope. I admire Cliff\’s persistence, his efforts to find something of beauty after someone robbed him. Happy Easter to you and your family. 😉
This seemed like the right time to resurrect this story – thanks for appreciating Cliff\’s efforts!
Bad thing is it happened. Good thing is there\’s been time to recover and learn from the experience. My two experiences with robbery have felt like personal attacks, even though I was away from the house when it happened and not much was taken. I love and relate to Cliff\’s tenacious search for joy, and I imagine he\’s the kind of back-ups now. thanks, Marian.
I always appreciate your analyses of my posts. \”Tenacious search for joy\” is a spot-on depiction.
Yes, there are multiple backups now + a security system in a new van. Thanks, Elaine.
What an incredible story of still finding beauty. I was once mugged, and so I know the feeling of being violated. Interesting that the daffodil is the symbol used for national cancer month as well. 🙂
I didn\’t know that: interesting fact about the daffodil as the symbol for National Cancer Month. I always look forward to the gentle scent of daffodils, harbingers of spring each year. Enjoy your weekend, Debby!
What a beautiful story
It\’s always nice to have a happy ending – thanks for the comment, Marie. Happy walking!