* THE FLOWERS – by Cheryl Stewart
She was a beautiful woman who left her home state of Washington to move to Alaska. She and her husband had a dream of moving north. They packed up their belongings and drove to this territory of the United States. Alaska was not yet a state and they settled in the small town of Anchorage. She was a woman with a pioneer spirit, but never left her house without her signature Coco Chanel red lipstick. This woman whom I speak of was model perfect in every sense of the word. She even appeared on TV every Wednesday afternoon for a local show called “The Women’s Touch”.
This woman was my mother.
Even though she was a stay home mom, she was the busiest person I ever knew. She loved her newly founded state and became a socialite and was involved in multiple committees that ranged from the PTA, local causes, and church functions. Once we children had left home, she volunteered once a week at the Anchorage Visitor’s Center. The Visitor’s Center is a log cabin originally built in 1955, complete with a grass-tundra covered roof. It used to be one the original houses of an earlier time, and now stands in the middle of the financial district of downtown Anchorage. It is a landmark building.
Every Thursday while walking to the center, she passed a Native Alaskan homeless woman sitting on a park bench asking for money. My mother never gave her money, knowing all too well where the cash would be spent. Instead she brought her coffee in the morning and soup or a sandwich in the afternoon. My mother was curious about this person and her story, and started arriving downtown earlier. She sat with her to get to know her.
This homeless street person was initially intimated by her questions, but my mother eventually made her feel at ease.
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Cheryl Stewart was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska and feels quite fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the University of Salzburg to study history of art and architecture. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design from the American College of Applied Arts in London. Today Cheryl resides in Seattle, Washington and has two teenage children. For 9 years she was the senior interior designer for Starbucks Coffee Co. For as long as she can remember, Cheryl has been told that she is a born story teller, and in the past year has decided to start becoming a writer as well.