A Pink Rose for ThanksgivingPosted: November 20, 2007
A solitary pink rose sits at the tip top of the tallest shoot of the bush. When I stand at my kitchen sink and look over the bar–beyond the snowman cookie jar with his red top hat–and out the bay window, it’s the first thing I see. Pink, against endless earthy autumn colors. I rinse Gala apples for a Harvest Cake and keep an eye on it. It dawns on me that the bloom has been there for weeks. The last two freezes didn’t get it. How can one rose last so long? And why now?
Autumn finally came to the backyard. The oak tree is golden, the maple a brilliant red, the burning bush, like fire, true to its name. The window is my hearth and flames flounce before me. There are some yellow and gold stragglers in the line of old cherry and hackberry trees, but for the most part, all ten have dropped their leaves, and the ground is ankle-deep in ochre and copper. The patio is covered, too, and I must sweep it before Thanksgiving.
Here in the middle of autumn sits that solitary pink rose. Pink, wrapped in a wall of red, orange, brown, gold, yellow, and muted shades of each, meshing to form a blur of bold color. The pink rose doesn’t match. It doesn’t belong here. Yet it’s perfectly formed, fairly fresh, may be with us a while, at least until the air goes down to 30 the day after Thanksgiving.
The rose bush is strange looking. It only has four shoots–two short, one medium, one tall. My son gave it to me Mother’s Day, six weeks after my father died. Actually, my son was in another state and forgot to send anything on a timely basis, so he called my husband and asked if he’d get some flowers for me. My husband was on his way out of town to visit his own mother, so I took it upon myself to go buy what I wanted, in my husband’s place, on behalf of my son. I went to Betty Reed’s Produce and selected a lovely bush, now compromised by a late freeze last spring and a summer drought. I planted it behind the goldfish pond next to the abelia and forsythia at the edge of Dad’s Memory Garden.
Dad always liked roses, always had a few bushes of his own, always pinned a red rose on us for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Why the solitary pink rose? I slice apples and let their red curls fall aside, put the fruit in a bowl with sugar and rum to “soak,” and contemplate. I’m left with the thought that it’s Dad somehow, sending an awareness of himself to those who gather here. He loved the holidays, he loved family all together, he loved to sit at the head of the table, beaming, and announce to children and grandchildren, “I’m responsible for you. I’m the reason you’re here. I made you all.” I truly believe that the dead often manifest themselves in nature. I believe they come to us, at times, in ways we must learn to interpret. I’ve experienced it before.
Dad would want to be present, here and now. He didn’t want to go. He had to go. Now, like the solitary pink rose holding on to the hope of summer, perhaps this is his way of holding on to us a little longer. And letting us hold on to him. I hold on to that thought.