"Front Porch Inspirations"

Sweet Scent of Rose


     My mother had thirty-six major surgeries before we lost her to an intestinal blockage. She spent many days confined to the bed, propped up by feather pillows. On one such day, I busied myself fluffing the pillows to make her more comfortable. But in all honesty, I just wanted to be near her as much as possible. I feared losing her and didn't understand death or dying.


    It was a beautiful spring day. I decided to take a walk to our neighbor's house after making Mother as comfortable as possible. I called it my retreat from the cares of the world. Rose was kind and gentle with me. Her patience was without end. When she smiled, it warmed my heart. We talked for hours. I enjoyed browsing through her magnificent flower garden, but had a even stronger desire for a little comforting, (or mothering conversation.) Rose was a great listener, and always knew just when to talk and when to keep silent.


    Rose's home sat back off the road, her driveway meandering along the dirt road with shade trees towering across the road, meeting in the center from each side. In the distance I saw her flowers in bloom. All spring and summer various varieties, sizes, and shapes continuously grew, perfuming the outside and inside of Rose’s home. This particular day, a sweet scent of gardenia and jasmine permeated the front yard as I entered in. (I can almost smell those sweet fragrances each time I think of her.)


    The house was small and simple. It had a wrap-around porch called a veranda. It beckoned me to ‘come sit a spell,’ which is exactly what I did as I sipped on refreshing lemonade and homemade cookies Rose kept handy for such visits.


    In the ceiling of the porch was a fan for those hot, sultry southern days. It gently turned, making swishing sounds, each time the blades came full circle. The sounds, almost hypnotic, relaxed me.


    And so it was, we shared the simple things in life. I listened attentively to stories of her childhood. I shared my ever-present concerns for my mother and her health.


    We strolled through her garden at ease. Rose named each variety and color of flower in bloom. Often, she carried a basket across her arm, occasionally bending down to snip a few as we walked and talked.


    As we strolled we approached a bench. Rose stopped and sat down. I jokingly called it her ‘wisdom bench’ because it was there that Rose often shared a few tidbits about life in general.


    Rose looked at me; tears pooled in her vibrant blue eyes. She gathered my tiny body close to her side and held me for a short moment. Looking back, I now know she must have truly sensed my pain and fear of losing my mom. I openly shared my thoughts and asked questions about life and death. She explained that for Christians, death was nothing to fear. She continued to explain why. I left feeling as if something special had been instilled in me. I felt comforted and at peace. I knew that when my mother passed from this life, she would step over into a wonderful world of peace, joy, and no more pain or tears. 


    We made our way back to her house, singing as we walked. Before I left she asked me to wait while she went inside. When she returned, she had a beautiful bouquet she had placed in a large glass vase with a rainbow colored bow tied around it. She handed it to me and said to give them to my mother. Along with the bouquet, she sent a note reading, "Thank you for sharing your daughter. I hope to share my garden with you someday soon."


    Rose and her house have long since left this world. But her gentleness, wisdom, and love abide forever in my heart. As for the flowers.... They still came up every spring where her house once stood.


    I moved from my southern home, married, and now have adult children and grandchildren of my own. I hope that I can share my love of flowers, and the bits of wisdom instilled in me. But most of all, I hope they will learn love and compassion, as I did from Rose. I want their world to be a better place because some of Rose still resides in my heart.



© 2003 Marie Williams


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