For 59 years, four months, two weeks, 17 hours and 15 minutes, Andy Carver made it a point to buy and surprise his wife Regina with flowers every Friday whenever he was stateside from his career in the military. They weren’t always roses—occasionally carnations—but she always loved them. About a year ago, Carver and his wife moved in to Lakeline Oaks in Cedar Park. The following day, after the movers moved in their furniture, she suffered a massive stroke and passed away.
For three or four months, Carver grieved internally, and did his best to keep appearances that he was ok.
“There was something missing, really missing,” Carver said. “I couldn’t think of what it was.”
Eventually, Carver got to know his new neighbors, one of whom was infirm. He bought a dozen roses and gave them to them. The smiles he received in return struck him like an epiphany.
“I thought to myself, that’s the one thing I was missing,” he said. "I love seeing people smile."
Since July of last year, 84-year-old Carver has made it his mission to buy a bouquet of flowers each week and give them to a widowed woman resident at Lakeline Oaks as a surprise. No one knows who it will be, they just know “Andy is the flower man.” So far, he’s given flowers away for 35 straight weeks. And he did it without consulting management first.
“I’ve been overseas and I served in Vietnam all those years ago. I’ve seen all kinds of people of all nationalities, speaking all kinds of languages, and I’ve noticed all of these people seemingly love flowers,” Carver said. “So I’m the flowers man.”
On Friday, Feb. 2, it was Billie Tips, 93, who had the honor. Carver said Tips hadn’t been going to social hour much lately, and that concerned him. So he devised a plan to get some of his female friends to “hustle” her into going this one time.
When 4 p.m. came around for social hour, Andy rolled in on his red electric scooter, with a fresh bouquet of roses in the basket. After parking right outside the tavern area, he stood up and tucked the bouquet behind his back, lest Tips would find out what he’s up to.
Carver waltzed across the busy social hour scene as an older gentleman guitarist sang and played sing-along country classics in the corner. Tips, enjoying a glass of white wine at her table, was none the wiser until seeing Carver give her a wide grin upon presenting her bouquet. She beamed. Her friends clapped and swooned.
“I think it’s so wonderful because he does it in tribute to his wife, and I can just see her smile,” Tips said after receiving the flowers. “This put a smile on my face. I don’t normally come to this function. Two friends told me I should come today, and this came as quite a surprise. The flowers are beautiful, gorgeous.”
This kind of scene with Carver is common, said Lakeline Oaks lifestyle director Tamela Orell.
“The ladies love the flowers,” she said. “They always come up and say, ‘Oh did you see the pretty flowers?’ They kept asking for a vase to put them on display, so I got one. It absolutely leaves a positive aura around them for the next three or four days. They’re pretty much beaming.”
At this point in his life, Carver said he’s more than satisfied about the life he’s lived. He’s served as an army officer where he survived two helicopter crashes, he’s been a baker, a business owner and a college professor. He’s been on the Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London and through the Chunnel. He’s seen the tulips in Holland, he’s seen the red brick streets of New Delhi, India and spent five years of his life in Germany.
“I love people. I love people,” he said, with rising enthusiasm. “I want everybody to be my friend. I know that’s impossible, but I love people. That’s one thing my wife did, too. She was a wonderful woman. I feel blessed, I’ve lived a great life.”
Carver’s goal is to complete a full circuit of giving flowers to every lady at Lakeline Oaks within a year and a half. One thing is for sure, he said, he’s going to keep giving away flowers as long as he is alive and able.