My father died during my second year at Grinnell. That spring I took a class with a visiting professor from Taiwan. The week of my dad’s birthday, I emailed Professor [Mu-chou] Poo, saying that my deceased father’s birthday was coming up, that I was having a hard week and might miss class one day, but I would still hand in my paper on comparative death rites the following week.
I went to class on my dad’s birthday, carrying with me over 100 daisies of different colors. I asked people, “Would you like a flower? Snow, sunshine, or lavender?” I offered Professor Poo a daisy in honor of my father. He smiled and took one.
At the end of the semester, Professor Poo had us all over to his house for a Taiwanese meal. When clearing my plate in the kitchen, I saw on the counter something beautiful, and one of my final memories of Grinnell — a little glass jar holding a single, crinkly, wilted daisy.