Etienne always left three behind before leaving for the front.

One for his mother who bore him, loved him and wept whenever he departed.
Another for his wife, the girl of his dreams, his best friend, the love of his life.
And lastly, one for his sister who nagged incessantly but just as tirelessly, waved as she watched him walk away, a tear in each eye.

But the flowers never lasted for more than a week, leaving behind wilted remnants of memories and fears of the unknown. The country was at war and each time Etienne left, no one knew when or if he would return.

It troubled Etienne that his loved ones worried about him. That as they watched the bouquets shrivel, trepidation mounted.

But he was a young man, strong and brave, and he was confident that they would win the war. He never doubted that he would return. But the women never shared his tenacity.

Etienne spent much of his time thinking about how he could alleviate their worries. Then one day, he stumbled upon something extraordinary.

The next time Etienne went home and left again for the war, he again presented a bouquet to each woman in his life. Pink for his mother, red for his wife and a mixed palette for his sister.

As the days passed, each woman watched her blooms, expecting the usual signs of waning. The days turned into weeks and the weeks into months. But the expected never happened. The flowers looked as fresh as on the day they were presented.

The women watched. First in amazement, and then with pleasure, as the flowers continued to bloom, seemingly untouched by the passing of time and brimming with promise. And as their wonder mounted, their spirits and hopes soared.

The war finally came to an end and Etienne returned home.

And still, the flowers bloomed.