How I loved that rose. It was strong and tenacious and had huge wicked thorns. The flowers were pale pink in bud and almost white when fully opened, and they smelled like heaven: a very light, pure rose scent that no soap or cologne ever matched. It was my rose.
We moved back into the house I grew up in three weeks before my father’s death, and the rose flourished. Every so often it would bloom early if we had a warm spring, or late if we didn’t, but generally it was as regular as the date of my birth. Twenty years and more ago, when we moved to our current house, I took two cuttings from that rose, and willed them to grow.
And they did. Our home had a small arbor, just made for the rose, I thought, and I anxiously waited several years while the rose established itself and began climbing. I also planted a cutting by the front door, with a small trellis for it. After awhile, it grew, too, both blooming in sync with my birthday and each other.
The arbor rose is a wild thing. It grows like mad, blooms profusely, and has twined itself in and around the arbor. The front door rose, however, while it grew in much the same pattern, tended to reach out to grab the delivery folk, or our hair, or to whack us across the cheek at odd moments.
It was time for it to go. The gardener of our household, who will do most anything I ask, would not touch the rose. It attacks him mercilessly. So I did it. I covered my hair and wore long sleeves and my leather work gloves, which are tiny because my hands are tiny. I spoke to the rose respectfully with each branch I cut away. I thanked the rose for being with me, I blessed it root and branch and thorn and flower, and reminded it that its greater sister still lived on in gay profusion. It was the work of an hour, until I had cut it down to the ground and made a box of cuttings that would not injure the garbage haulers who would take it away. Only one thorn penetrated those work gloves, when I grabbed at a thick branch that was falling out of reach.
I have a thing for roses. I tend to gravitate to rose patterns in fabric and leather and art. I call my iPad Rose. I love the word, noun and verb. I am grateful for this essay, the last gift of the front door rose.
I offer you a picture of the rose arbor today, and one of the front door rose taken a few years ago before it began menacing passersby.
Happy Fathers Day to all.