When I was in middle school, my dad got into gardening, particularly roses, and he bought a few bare-root roses during winter for spring planting. One rose plant that he bought that was not bare-root was in a several-gallon-large container, and its name was Double Delight. It was a hybrid tea rose, meaning single stemmed roses, with a creamy yellowish-white hue tinged with bright magenta on the petal edges. It also has one of the most spectacular fragrances I’d ever smelled in a rose. When you buy your wife a dozen roses from anywhere, the smell is zilch compared to these lovelies. These babies were meant to be grown and loved and cherished in a garden.
Today, it is the only standing rose bush that managed to survive my dad’s brown thumb. I love my dad, but gardening is not his thing even if he tried harder. The last time I was home in February, I thought Double Delight was going to die after looking at how puny and pathetic it looked in the backyard. I felt so disappointed because it was always my favorite plant in the yard. But in the last three months, my mom has managed to bring it back to life. She said she’s been spending a lot of time in the yard taking care of it. My mom loves flowers, especially very fragrant ones. I rarely see a smile on her face as big as when she sees flowers blossoming everywhere. She has a gorgeous blossom from that bush in a vase in our dining room now, and there are five more buds on the way now after I went out to the yard to look at it. How did this happen? I asked her. Before this, the only plants my mom had ever taken care of successfully were the “set it and forget it” type plants like onion, mint, aloe vera, and Vietnamese herbs that just need to be rooted, planted in dirt, watered, and then they thrive on their own like freaking weeds.
Her good friend happens to be a very talented gardener with a tiny garden full of luscious roses of all types, so she taught my mom how to treat the plants, how trim, fertilize, and maintain them. And it worked. This rose bush has never looked healthier. What’s her secret? I asked. At dinner tonight, her friend said to me, “You have to talk to them and give them attention,” she said. “They want to feel loved.”
Well, don’t we all.
I saw some hope in this rose plant this afternoon. I saw how happy my mom was when she was telling me how she came to the rose’s rescue and nurtured it back to health and prosperity. “You don’t know how much time I’ve spent in this yard rescuing it!” she exclaimed as she smelled the blossom in the dining room. Maybe her friend is also in some way helping her heal in her loss of Ed by teaching her a new hobby and passion in the form of gardening. Life is moving forward slowly but surely. Flowers and gardening can’t really replace Ed, but they can help my mom look to the future with a bigger glimmer of hope.