At 6 a.m. last Sunday, Theresa McKenzie woke in pain. Just three days post-surgery for colorectal cancer, she was urged by her partner to get up anyway and head downstairs.
Through her living room window, the 40-year-old nurse saw 1,000 daffodils planted in her front yard.
“It was pure beauty,” Theresa said. “Instant love.”
She took her tea outside to enjoy the flowers and didn’t question for long who had left her such a gift.
“I (thought) ‘this has to be my brother’ because he’s such a cool guy,” she said.
She was right.
At 4:30 that morning, her brother, Stephen McKenzie, led the mission he dubbed “Operation Daffodil.”
Under the cover of darkness, Stephen and his team of eight had filled the lawn of his sister’s Tuxedo Road home with blooming daffodils.
“We reviewed the mission at 4 a.m. and we executed it in about 45 minutes,” Stephen said. “She figured out very quickly who the culprit was.”
The daffodils attracted neighbourhood attention and were “the perfect fit” given that April was cancer awareness month, Theresa said. The flowers also hold special significance for the siblings, who grew up next door to a former daffodil farm in Cordova Bay.
“I just wanted her to know that there is a group of people out there who love and support her,” Stephen said.
The McKenzies’ cousin, Heather Vantreight, supplied the daffodils from her family’s Vantreight Farms, which was instrumental in using daffodils to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.
“My dad (Geoff Vantreight), who passed away of cancer 12 years ago, would have loved this Operation Daffodil,” Vantreight said. “It’s neat for me to see people’s passion for others.”
“I never expected anything like that,” Theresa said. “It was an amazing thing to look out there, to feel the love and the strength. It’s just pure beauty. Pretty special.”