'Sunflowers for Wishes'
Late in the day, a woman calls out to him from the roadside. Her children are playing in the grass beside her. She tells him that one is terminally ill and a Make-A-Wish recipient. For a moment, she and Duane stand opposite each other, a thin stone wall separating two strangers, each of whom is a hero to the other. She breaks the silence: “Mr. Button, there’s a special place in heaven for you.”Recalling the experience later, Duane becomes flustered. For someone like her — “someone with real problems,” as Duane would put it — to say such a thing of him, a man blessed with three healthy children, a farmer who fell face-first into philanthropy, it’s just too much for him to accept.
“It’s nothing to do with me,” he says. “I mean, we plant the flowers and it looks nice. But it means so much to some people, you know? For something to mean that much to her, boy that’s …” His voice trails off, and he composes himself. Then, earnestly: “That’s good, I think.”
The sun sets on the last day of the festival faster than anyone would like. In a few short weeks the radiant blooms opened, filled the rolling Connecticut fields with light and joy, and then passed. Duane readies his equipment to recycle the stalks into feed and bedding for his herd — he doesn’t waste anything he can use. Some late visitors complain to him that the sunflowers didn’t last longer, that a nine-day peak just isn’t enough. He shrugs. For all his skill as a farmer, Duane has no control over that. They are what they are.
Miracles brief, but beautiful.