Andy Carver first met his wife, Brigitte, while he was stationed in Germany. She was at a restaurant, and Andy knew he’d marry her the first time he laid eyes on her.
At a pub later that evening, he asked her to dance for the very first time. “We went out on the dance floor, and I started with my limited vocabulary of spoken German. She laughed, and we hit it off,” he told the Austin American-Statesman.
He brought a bouquet of flowers on their first date, but didn’t give them to Brigitte. “I gave them to the housemother. I had to butter her up,” he joked.
After that, he only bought flowers for the woman who would soon become his wife.
Every Friday after their marriage, Andy would come home with a different bouquet for Brigitte.
“I mixed it up quite a bit,” he said. “She just loved it, and I just loved to see her smile — I loved to make her happy.”
After 59 years of marriage, Brigitte suffered a stroke and entered hospice care. She passed away eight days later.
“It was a type of grief I can’t explain,” he recalled. “I would start something and I couldn’t finish it, or I’d worry about something I couldn’t control.”
He sold his home and moved into a retirement home, but was still living in sadness. A few months into his stay, he heard one of his neighbors was sick and wanted to cheer them up.
So, Andy went to the same move that always worked: a bouquet of flowers. “They were delighted,” Andy said.
“I knew that was something I was missing. (I told my daughters), I think it would make me feel good if I would do that every week for someone.”
So, he did just that.
Every Friday Andy brings a bouquet of flowers and gives it to a different female resident. So far, he’s given 35 bouquets away in his retirement community.
Andy hopes he’ll eventually be able to give a bouquet to every single or widowed woman who lives with him. It will take 18 months for him to finish.
“It brings him a lot of joy,” lifestyle director Tamela Orell said. “And the residents love it. Everybody here knows why he does it.”
The smiles he puts on the faces of the other residents helps him remember the most beautiful smile in his life. He honors his late wife by evoking a new smile every week.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.