Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day 6: "I beg your pardon - I never promised you a rose garden ..."

The one indulgence I grant myself every single time I go to the University of British Columbia campus is a visit to the rose garden, just steps away from the Faculty of Law building. There have been many times when the weather reflects the sombre inclination of my mind: no roses are in bloom and the sky is grey and brooding. At other times a few buds are struggling against the resistance of the wind and the cold.
And on very rare occasions the wind, the temperature, the sky and the roses themselves conspire to make it a perfect half hour. Such was the case today.

I told Lisa, who was working with me, that I needed to stop and take a look at the gardens. She willingly accompanied me. As we approached from the level of the parking lot, the rose bushes themselves at the entry seemed to beckon to us; and when we stepped into the garden the sight of the roses in their extravagant splendour took my breath.

How much Mum loved roses! My mind went back to our gardens in Coonoor and and to the great variety of roses she personally researched and purchased, and how she selected the optimal place for them to be planted.

One rose she did not choose, however: our "Uncle Bill" Powell brought her a rose bush with deepest darkest velvety red blossoms, sporting a label on which was written "Allan Rose." He gave that to Mum for a hostess gift one holiday and that rose bush was planted in a particular place of honour, in the garden and in her heart.

As I continued to walk around, the ache in my heart grew, wishing she could have been there with me, exclaiming over one and then another flower that caught her eye, exulting in the view and the day. Finally, I told Lisa that we should probably get going, and we turned to walk the last arc of the circumference toward the way we had entered. We stopped to read the dedications on some of the benches and one struck both of us, an adaptation of Hodding Carter's quotation, “There are two lasting bequests we can give our children: One is roots, the other is wings.”

That's what she did for us. She gave us a profound example of what was important: love for God, love for family and love for the world and others. The first two anchored us, and the third one encouraged us to stretch and grow and tumble out of the safety of the nest to make our own ways. I said a little prayer of thanksgiving for the wisdom that was manifest by a woman who herself had no strong example, apart from her grandfather, of how to grow deep roots and whose wings had been clipped many a time as she grew from childhood to womanhood. The catch in my throat eased.

But there was still one more gift waiting for me: the last rose that called out to me was in full bloom, a strong summer pink, reminiscent of roses we had in Coonoor. As I drew closer, I saw that there were smaller roses surrounding that one central rose. There were FIVE smaller roses, one for each of Patricia's daughters!

Today the rose garden spoke directly to me of two things: the first is the realization that there are thousands more thorns than there are roses in the garden - just like in life there might seem to be more hardships than happiness at times - but both thorn and rose are needed for the rose bush to continue to thrive. The second message seemed to be an assurance that though the petals of the central pink rose would certainly soon fade and fall off, wafting away from the rose bush and leaving nothing but a faint, sweet, perfume in their wake, the newer rose buds would continue to grow and bloom and be beautiful in their own right.

And my heart was soothed.


  1. Like jewels in her crown! Thank you for seeing and sharing, and soothing as well as strengthening all of us. And how nice to grow close together, supported by the central life-giving stem.
    P.S. I can just hear Mum saying, "I beg your pardon!" Nice correlation!


I love to hear from you! Please leave me a leaf to read ...