For 59 years, he brought her flowers. See how he honors her memory now

Andy Carver spreads joy, pays tribute to late wife through weekly bouquet presentation.


Highlights

When Andy Carver enters the room, a bright bouquet of flowers tucked behind his back, everyone turns to watch.

Every Friday during their 59-year marriage, Andy Carver would stop to pick up flowers for his wife, Brigitte.

Since this summer, Andy has handed out 35 bouquets at Lakeline Oaks in honor of his late wife.

It’s Friday happy hour at Lakeline Oaks Retirement Resort — and the boxed wine is flowing.

Nearly 40 residents crowd the lounge, where a folk singer is crooning and a line dance to “Elvira” is under discussion.

But when Andy Carver enters the room, a bright bouquet of flowers tucked behind his back, everyone turns to watch.

They know that Andy’s here, as he is every Friday, to surprise a fellow resident with flowers. But more than that, they know that each bouquet he presents doubles as a tribute to his late wife, Brigitte.

Andy and Brigitte. For 59 years, it was those two names, those two lives, intertwined into one.

He knew he was going to marry her the first time he set eyes on her in a restaurant in Rudesheim, Germany. He was stationed with the Army in a neighboring town, and she was a German native working as a registered nurse in Frankfurt.

“I was finishing dinner, and I saw this beautiful blonde,” said Andy, 84. “I kept looking at her. (I told my friend), ‘I’m going to marry that girl.’ I knew she was the right person. I just knew it.”

When he saw her again later that night at a pub, he asked her to dance.

“We went out on the dance floor, and I started with my limited vocabulary of spoken German,” he said. “She laughed, and we hit it off.”

RELATED: The untold story behind Austin’s “I love you so much” mural

On their first date, he arrived with flowers. But they weren’t for her.

“I gave them to the housemother,” he laughs. “I had to butter her up.”

From then on, though, all bouquets were for Brigitte.

Her favorites were white carnations. And on the day that Andy had the honor of marrying “the prettiest girl in Germany” in late 1957, that’s what she carried.

With everything their nearly six-decade life together would bring, including a move to Texas and two daughters, fresh flowers would remain a constant.

Every Friday, Andy stopped to pick up a bouquet for Brigitte. Sometimes it would be white carnations, other times roses, his favorite.

“I mixed it up quite a bit,” he said.

She’d arrange them, and he’d watch as her face would glow like a new bloom in a sun shower.

“She just loved it, and I just loved to see her smile,” he said. “I loved to make her happy.”

In the framed photographs that adorn Andy’s apartment, the decades flit by in seconds. Their first date. Their wedding. Their 50th anniversary celebration.

Their life together “was the most exciting experience you could have ever had,” Andy said, transitioning to present tense as he recalled the memories. “We’ve done more, been more places, seen more things.”

Brigitte entered hospice care last year on March 6 due to complications from a stroke, and eight days later, on March 14, she died.

They had spent 59 years, four months, two weeks, 17 hours and 15 minutes together. Now, he was alone.

He sold their home and moved into Lakeline Oaks, where he attempted to grapple with his sadness.

“It was a type of grief I can’t explain,” he said. “I would start something and I couldn’t finish it, or I’d worry about something I couldn’t control.”

A few months after he started living there, Andy heard that his neighbors were ill and decided to take them a bouquet of roses.

“It just cheered them both up. 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.”

He decided that every Friday, he would buy a bouquet and present it during happy hour. Since the summer, he’s presented 35 bouquets at Lakeline Oaks.

His goal is to give one to every single or widowed woman at the property, which he thinks will take him about 18 months. Usually he buys the bouquets at Randalls, where they now know him personally.

“When I first got here, I knew no one,” he said. “I think now I can go to almost any table in that dining room and sit down with one of my ‘flower girls.’”

Tamela Orell, lifestyle director at Lakeline Oaks, said the community has embraced Andy’s mission.

“It brings him a lot of joy,” Orell said. “And the residents love it. Everybody here knows why he does it.”

During a recent happy hour, Andy presented a bouquet to resident Billie Tips, 93, who had a birthday coming up.

“They’re beautiful. They’re gorgeous. It’s nice to be remembered,” Tips said. “This put a smile on my face.”

And that, of course, is the point — to conjure smiles in honor of the girl with the prettiest smile he ever knew.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Lifestyle

Keep kids in Austin busy this March, especially during spring break
Keep kids in Austin busy this March, especially during spring break

You’ll find a lot of things to do with the kids this March. Expect many more activities the week of spring break — March 12-16 — to help you keep kids busy when school is out. Events Rodeo Austin Cowboy Breakfast. Eat breakfast like a cowboy. 6 a.m. March 2. Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. rodeoaustin.com Texas Independence Day...
Meditation, one thing only you can do for yourself
Meditation, one thing only you can do for yourself

When I worked for Gov. Ann Richards she used to tell her staff, “You can get a lot of work done if you don’t care who gets the credit.” She meant it as a stimulant for her staff to stop worrying about who gets the credit for a good idea or completion of a task. Just do the work and forget trying to take credit for a job well done...
What’s one of the most dangerous things for your kids to have?
What’s one of the most dangerous things for your kids to have?

In 2016, 53 at least kids died because of an all-terrain vehicle; another 26,800 kids checked in at an emergency room because of them. Those numbers, though, are preliminary and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission expects them to go up as more data is collected for that year. “ATVs are one of the most dangerous products CPSC regulates...
Yes, your child can try a winter Olympic sport in Austin
Yes, your child can try a winter Olympic sport in Austin

You and your children have been watching the Olympics. Now they want to become the next Nathan Chen, Shaun White or Mikaela Shiffrin. Do you have to move to Colorado to get them involved in winter sports? We don’t have a ski mountain in our backyard, but you can do some of the winter Olympic sports here. Here are some lessons we found: Figure...
Is that plant dead or dormant? Check before you pull it as winter ends
Is that plant dead or dormant? Check before you pull it as winter ends

This has been one of those winters. A real one. With freezes and snow and sleet and even hail. My Facebook post from a year ago was a photo of my computer sitting outside on a table in the 80-degree sun, with background plants alive and thriving. Seeing that made me want to cry. An uncharacteristically cold winter and slow warmup means some plants...
More Stories