Eloise

This arrangement includes 6 varieties of camellia that bloom early in the season. (Little Michael, Peppermint, Fifth Ave, Mrs. D.W. Davis, Mrs. D.W. Davis Descanso, and Nobilissima. The vase is a favorite of mine. It's a salvaged piece that used to be red (you can see the rouge interior below).

Grandma Eloise inspired this happy arrangement. She was my great-grandfather's second wife, and for all intents and purposes, "momma," to my grandfather and his siblings after their mother died. I'll share her story in a different post.

A widow herself, with her own fully grown children, she was a few years my great-grandfather's senior. By all accounts, she had a heart of gold, and made children feel safe and special. My grandmother often told me that Eloise, her mother-in-law, was a veritable saint for taking on a grief-stricken widower and his three small children. My own mother tells me that Eloise was one of the most kind-hearted people she ever knew.

I wish I could have known her. Who knows what would have happened to our family if she hadn't stepped into the picture. I think of her dressing my grandfather and his siblings for church on Sundays, providing hot dinners for my brooding, grumpy great-grandpa, making sure that my Aunt Pearl (my great-aunt) was raised well. I always imagine her brushing little Pearl's hair and getting her ready for school. I don't know why. It's a mothering thing, I suppose.

Doesn't she look like she would give the best hugs?

And so, I thought about the sort of arrangement she would inspire me to make. More specifically, if I could give her a bouquet, which would it be? I think this one. A giant arrangement of hand-picked camellias, arranged with lots of love and appreciation for all of her work.