Monday, August 17, 2009

Designer Roses?

For those of you who don't know, my Mother died in April 2007. The day she was diagnosed with terminal brain and lung cancers, I put in my notice at Christian Dior, packed up my house, and moved in to my parents house to help take care of Mom, be there to help Dad, and to help be the glue to all of the relationships that my Mom kept together. Not that our family and friends weren't close before, but her being sick really brought us even closer together.

While I was home taking care of her during the day, I needed things to keep me busy. I've always been relatively active, and I knew I had to stay busy with other things to keep my sanity. So, I began taking care of Mom's roses. You see, we live right on the water, so our soil is very nourishing and plentiful. We have two gardens, one on each side of the house in the back yard. One of English tea roses, and one of hybrid roses - 13 bushes in total. Each morning, after Mom had her medicine and breakfast and was taking one of her many daily naps, I'd go out into the yard to tend her roses. Every day, I'd trim any brown spots or unhealthy leaves, individually water each bush, fertilize and treat each bush on a regular schedule. Whenever there were rose blooms, I'd cut them and bring them inside to her. I'd have her smell the roses, and tell her how great her rose bushes were doing. I knew it made her happy, not only because she'd say so, but because she'd smile and light up when I brought in a freshly cut rose.

Flowers have always been a huge part of my Mom's life. She was a wonderful gardener, and loved receiving flowers. My Dad would often bring her flowers home from the supermarket. Just because. When I moved away to college and work, I used to send her the most amazing bouquets of flowers from B.Brooks. (And subsequently, now when I send flowers to other women in my life, from B.Brooks of course, I always get this sensation like Mom is with me even more than normal.)

When I moved away to college, Mom's first birthday while since I had been out of the house fell on a Sunday. Church is very important to our family. So, I woke up very early that Sunday, drove to the florist, had an arrangement made of beautiful flowers, carnations, and Calla lilies, and made the 2 hour drive to our church, where I surprised Mom with flowers. I'll never forget the look of excitement and surprise on her face, as I walked in with the bouquet of flowers.

Before my Mom died, we all had the most meaningful conversations with her -about anything and everything. One time, my parents were talking about heaven. Mom knew she was going to heaven. Dad asked her how she was so sure. And Mom said, "When I get there, I'll let you know." Well, the day after Mom died, Dad went for a very routine bicycle ride. But something more than just routine happened. There, in the bike lane, was a pink silk rose. Dad stopped, picked up the rose, and knew. Mom was where she was supposed to be. She made it.

Every year on her birthday and the anniversary of her move to heaven, I've planted new roses for her. The first anniversary, I bought two roses bushes for her gardens. I didn't know what kind they were - but they looked healthy and I wanted them. When I got home and planted the bushes, I realized they were Christian Dior roses. Since then, I've also planted a beautiful antique rose bush.

Whenever I work in Mom's roses, I don't just think of her, I'm with her. It's not a weird sensation. But it's very different. And no matter where I am in life, whether I'm in her gardens at our family home, or if I'm in a garden somewhere else, I know that she's with me. The day is never too important, too hectic, or too stressful to stop. Smell the roses. And be thankful for the day.

And yes, even my roses are designer. Just stop and smell the Christian Dior roses!


Elizabeth Dukes said...

This is beautiful! It's amazing how God can send us reminders that the one's we love aren't lost, just on a REALLY good permanent vacation until we get to join them.

Lisa Beatty said...

My father died of brain cancer 14 years ago this December. He was an industrial photographer who took pictures of nature as a creative outlet. I often accompanied him on his journeys into the woods where we he could become so engrossed in the beauty of what others would consider weeds. He also loved roses and took many photos of them for my mother. I can't look at a photo of a flower without thinking of my dad. I imagine he's in heaven enjoying lots of amazing flowers that aren't in fact weeds.

Lael DeWahl said...

Dearest Joseph,

Your eloquent reminder of God's messages tos us was truly uplifting this morning. Your sensitivity is a gift and I only wish I had the pleasure of meeting your mother. I have begun a garden at home and thank you for your timely and beautiful note.