Celebration Flowers and Forever Circles


“Live for yourself, you live in vain; live for others, you live again.” –Bob Marley


The early buds of fuchsia and blush are blooming in the front courtyard at my home. Soon, the brick walkway will be covered like a floral carpet. Last year I reminded my husband, John, to remind the gardeners, Please, please do not clean up those petals. These are celebration flowers, marking the time of year we moved into this home, and the friends (Billy and Haydee Abel, marriage and real estate partners), who helped make it possible. “Coincidentally,” these flowers also mark the time of year I accompanied Haydee to Guatemala—my first trip, and Haydee’s final. The pink petals also celebrate Haydee’s birthday, which is today. I see those flowers and my heart blooms with gratitude.


To refer to Haydee as an IMA volunteer is the understatement of the century. Below is a story I wrote about Haydee. And below that, is a link to a children’s book about Haydee, written by Jessica Gorman and Se lee, illustrated by Kenny Yamada (proceeds go to IMA). Consider ordering a copy and celebrating her extraordinary life and legacy with me, today, and maybe say a prayer for all her family members who miss her so.



“You’re stupid,” I heard the furrowed woman say to the child. I had just hopped onto the open-air city bus and was riding cable-car style, at the edge.

Interrupting her, I commanded, “Stop! How would you feel if you were a child, belittled by an adult?”

She sneered back at me, “Mind your own business! Who are you to tell me . . .” But then her raspy voice stopped short—and she seemed to have a change of heart. Smiling a reconciliatory smile, she reached out her hand as if to say, Thank you; I understand now.

She grasped my hand warmly, but as I looked down, I noticed she began to press a crooked, arthritic finger into my hand. Then, as she pulled it back up, I saw that the tip of her “finger” was the lit end of a cigarette, which she’d burned into my skin. I saw and felt the circular burn mark.

And then I woke up.
Yikes. Some things leave a real mark.
Here’s another scenario. Sometimes I imagine myself standing at the end of a dock over a still lake. I have a pebble in my hand. I look down; I drop the pebble into the calm water. The tiny rock hits the surface of the water, the water receives it, and there are concentric circles.

There is no alternative. What I touch, changes. For the good or the bad. My scuba-diving family tells me I cannot touch the ocean’s coral because it is a living thing, and my touch will change it.

I love the character George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, probably my favorite movie. As a young man George is desperate to get out of Bedford Falls to make a name for himself and change the world. He wants not only a taste of the world; he wants a big bite, to devour it. Yet as George continually chooses to defer his own agenda to make way for others, he sees his dream dying and he is devastated.

Thankfully, in the end, it becomes clear that George did change the world standing on his dock. He thought he had to go out sailing the ocean. But he did it right from where he stood. George was satisfied.

In 2008, I watched my good friend Haydee pass from this earth. Haydee Del Cid Abel loved IMA with every fiber of her feisty Guatemalan being. She knew what kind of life Guatemala held for young girls, and she was compelled to make a difference. And she has; she does. Her touch continues there.

Haydee had asked me for years to visit her homeland with her, to become involved in her cause, but because I was distracted by my own life, it was not a priority to me. Finally, in 2008, when she was near death after battling cancer for five years, I went with Haydee to Guatemala. This would be her final trip home.

On that trip she mostly lay on the couch while her family and I took turns sitting with her, caring for her. She was in such pain. I remember how hard she wanted me to rub her head.

One afternoon she asked me to take her outside and give her a ride in her wheelchair. As I was pushing her tired, ravaged body, navigating the bumps in the pavement on the IMA campus, it was quiet. I parked her wheelchair in the sun, and from there Haydee pointed out the garden she’d planted and told me the names of the plants. She also talked about IMA and how the work needed to go on after she was gone. I told her that I would work for IMA.

She passed away a few days later.

Haydee’s pebble made a wide, wide splash. Her circles continue. I pray mine will too. –Pamela Capone