SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Sandy Payson has always had a thing for crafting. Six years ago, she tapped into that passion to cope with the pain of a devastating diagnosis.
It was 2016 when Payson learned she had terminal ovarian cancer.
“I got this idea in my head that I would make my own flowers for my life ceremony and they would cover my coffin,” Payson said. “When my family came to visit, it would really surprise them in a happy way because they know I am a crazy crafts person, here would be something I made myself.”
It started with a few flowers, but the project has bloomed over the years. There are thousands of colorful three-dimensional paper flowers now covering an entire room in her Sarasota home.
For outsiders coming in, the space is like a whimsical wonderland.
“It was so much fun and so enjoyable that I just kept going,” said Payson.
The clipping, taping and sculpting became cathartic during a painful period in her life.
“Sometimes when I am working and absorbed in making my stuff, I get this kind of feeling that washes over me that’s a really happy, secure feeling. It feels just like when I was a little girl playing with toys in my room, and that I hadn’t felt that for a really long time,” she said. “That is how happy and cathartic it was.”
She has plans to continuing growing the garden. It’ll eventually include a water feature and a whimsical mushroom garden.
When the time comes for her family to say goodbye, she hopes they’ll remember this message:
“I think even in the worst of our times, we can still find beauty and happiness and still create and pass on some thing that is pretty and happy for people to remember us by.”