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A perfect stranger's perfect gift

  • 22 November 2016


Recently I went with a group of friends to a matinee of the musical Dusty, at the Playhouse Theatre in Melbourne. We all enjoyed the experience, not just for the poignant story, colourful production and the skills of the performers, but mainly for the songs we remembered so well from the 60s.

Afterwards, walking in the sunshine along St Kilda Rd towards Flinders Street Station with one of my friends, I spoke about how special it had turned out for me seeing this musical on the day after my 54th wedding anniversary.

The songs written and sung by Dusty Springfield were ones my husband and I would have heard and known well at the time.

Just as I was reflecting on how some events have more significance than what appears on the surface, I noticed a young man on my right. He turned towards me and handed me a large red flower, smiling and saying, 'I'm supposed to give this to a stranger.'

Surprised, I stopped, took the flower, thanked him and asked, 'Do I have to pass it on to a stranger too?'

'No,' he said, 'it's for you. Take it home and put it in a vase.' I smiled and thanked him again as he and the young woman with him disappeared into the crowd ahead.

I recalled then reading about the current art exhibition of live flowers at the National Gallery of Victoria. Sure enough there was a narrow, plastic, water-filled envelope on the flower's stem with 'NGV, Lee Mingwei, The Moving Garden' written on it.

My friend had heard about the exhibition also. Because of our earlier discussion I confided in her my sense that the gift of the flower on that particular day was loaded with unique significance. She agreed. I am aware that many might see what had happened as no more than a coincidence, and I cannot dismiss that possibility.


"Conscious that I had received an unexpected gift a short time earlier, I walked over to this man and slipped some money into his cap. He thanked me and wished me a happy day. I wished him the same."


However, always open to seeing something deeper in the most ordinary events, I continued to muse on what had prompted the young man to hand the flower to me. He could just as easily have handed it to the friend I was walking with. We were both about the same age. To a stranger