Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Mom and the White Roses

This is a rewrite of a post from many years ago. I thought of it because that white rose bush is struggling a bit. It has brought us so much joy through the years, reminding us of Mom, who gave it to us. Happy Mother's Day, friends.

On a fall visit to my mom, she handed me a pot of dirt with a dead looking stick in it and said, “A cutting from your grandfather’s climbing rose.” He’d died decades before, and after his death, she’d uprooted a rose from his yard and brought it home with her.

“Thanks, Mom.” I scrutinized the gift. It didn’t resemble a rose in any way, except a few thorns. I was skeptical about how I’d make it live, because my thumb leaned to the brown side unlike her verdant green one. I took the pot home, set it in the back yard, and wondered how something that already looked so lifeless would make it through the winter, but I prayed it would.

A short time after my mother gave me the rose bush, she had a fall. After medical tests, she was given a terminal diagnosis and died a few weeks later. Her beloved toy poodle, Charlie, came to live with us. When I brought him home, my nine-year-old Bethany plucked him from the floor and held him close. A consolation to all of us, the dog often slept under the bed covers with Bethany.

Because of Charlie, we felt after mom’s death, we had a tiny bit of her still with us.

Charlie lived with us for many years before he, too, died at the ripe old age of fourteen. When we lost Charlie, it seemed a part that remained of Mom died, too. I dealt with a grief unlike anything I’d experienced after deaths of other pets.

The following spring, I especially missed Mom while preparing a get together for my nephew, Christopher who was graduating with a master’s degree in music education.  Mom would have been so proud of him.

I went outside to see what might be blooming, so I could put together a few flowers for the table. I surveyed my yard, and oh, why didn’t I think of it before? That brown stick I prayed over years earlier was now a climbing rose wild with flowers. It twined over a trellis next to a garden studio apparently aiming to cover the studio roof. The climbing rose has been one of the most prolific plants in my yard, blooming as early as April and continuing even into the fall. I’ve even had roses at Thanksgiving.

I clipped dozens of buds for the table, and the next day, as we ate mocha chocolate cake, and celebrated the big event, Mom’s white roses bloomed in front of us. Those flowers took on a special meaning. Once more, it seemed she was still with us.

Because of my mother’s thoughtful gift from years ago, our family gathering seemed to expand beyond those who actually sat in the chairs―almost as if she and my grandfather were also present.

I plan on cutting clippings from the climbing rose and rooting them as my mother did for me. I hope to give them to family members to continue what my mother and grandfather began. Of course, Mom planted more than roses in my life, perseverance is perhaps her greatest gift to me, and I'm so thankful for it. I pray those that come after me will sense the love and care of generations before them through the bloom of the white roses. It's so important to keep planting.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses . . . let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us . . . " (Hebrews 12:1).

Just released is this collection of family stories, Short and Sweet Family Album. I am honored to have a piece included about my grandfather and his garden.  

For Mother's Day, please consider Faith in the Fashion District, how one woman's life on Seventh Avenue launched a lifetime in ministry.

 A novel about forgiveness, sacrifice, and what a legacy really means. A key really can open more then a door. The Key to Everything.

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