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A Surprise Visit

In the years since my mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling, retired and stopped driving, her visits to Behnke’s have been few and far between. I tell everyone she is doing fine, but I think seeing is believing, so this week her husband brought her by for a surprise visit. Of course we had to be in the middle of a management meeting and I can just imagine what Mom and her husband were thinking: “What are you all doing in here? There are customers!” Or Mom’s famous saying: “Hurry up with this meeting, we have work to do.”

In they came and what a nice time it was. Mom got so many hugs from all her friends that have missed her so very much. We got her to sit down and help us move the meeting along and I snapped this picture, then noticed my grandparents, Albert and Rose Behnke’s portrait looking down at her. After that, we went back outside to talk to a few more of her Behnke friends.

I think one of the hardest things for my mother was when she knew she needed to give up driving and being the independent woman she was. Now, she has to rely on family but never wants to impose. But once we get her out and about, she just beams.  Mom’s smile always reminds me of the Mary Tyler Moore Show’s opening line in the song Love Is All Around by Sonny Curtis: she can “…turn the world on with a smile.” That is my mom in a nutshell.

by Stephanie Fleming, Behnke’s Vice President

Stephanie Fleming

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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