British Columbia

North Shuswap woman asks people to stop digging daffodils from memorial she planted

Since 2009, Cynthia Bentley has planted hundreds, if not thousands of daffodils in and around her property in the North Shuswap to honour those who have died of cancer or are suffering. 

'I just want people to be respectful and to think of the reason behind it'

Bentley said she often receives messages from people in the community asking if she can plant a flower in honour of a loved one. (Submitted by Cynthia Bentley)

Over the past decade, Cynthia Bentley has planted hundreds, if not thousands, of daffodils just outside her property in the North Shuswap to honour those who have died from cancer or are suffering. 

But she's been losing flowers recently because people have been digging them up and taking them. 

The first time it happened was a few years ago when her neighbour confronted a woman taking them to her car. 

"She had dug up a lot. Probably I would say well over 200," Bentley said.

After that, she had a sign made that explains the flowers are a memorial and asks people not to dig them up.

Bentley had this sign made after her neighbour confronted a woman who had dug up more than 200 daffodils. (Submitted by Cynthia Bentley)

"Last year, I didn't have any difficulty. But again this year, people have been digging them up again. So I put a little bit of a rant out on Facebook because I was a little bit upset about that."

Neighbourhood watch

Many in the small community of Celista were horrified when they heard the daffodils were being taken, Bentley told Radio West host Sarah Penton.

"Most of the people up in that area that drive by really enjoy them and know the meaning behind it and sort of have adopted it as their own," she said.

"I just want people to be respectful and to think of the reason behind it and that they're for everybody's enjoyment. Those daffodils, if left, will naturalize and they'll be there long after I'm gone."

Living memorial

Bentley decided to plant daffodils after losing a few family members and friends in the same year. She wanted to find a way to pay tribute to their memory.

'They bloom generally for probably a good month they'll be blooming, and then they die off, and you'd never know that they were there,' said Bentley. (Submitted by Cynthia Bentley)

"I thought maybe if I plant in the fall 100 daffodils and they come up in the spring, and people driving by see them and it just brightens their day and makes them forget their troubles for a little bit ... then I think that it just helps me deal with loss and maybe some other people as well," she said.

The daffodils are planted just outside of Bentley's fence line, and not in any particular pattern. 

"It's very wild, disorganized. It's just outside my property line on a dirt road ... I wanted it very natural looking. I didn't want it looking groomed."

'Little bit of hope'

Bentley plants the flowers each year around Thanksgiving either on her own, or sometimes with friends.

"I receive quite a few messages from different people asking me while I'm planting if I could plant a few in memory of a loved one that's either passed or is going through cancer," she said.

"You plant and you reflect on the people who have made a difference in your life and who are no longer with us."

When Bentley's husband died a year and a half ago, people brought daffodils to the memorial service.

"I think cancer has touched everybody in one way or another. And you know the daffodil does symbolize the cancer society and hope," said Bentley.

"I think that for most people it gives them a little bit of hope. It's a sense of community. It's a sense that you know we all come together in times of trouble."

With files from Radio West

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