I have a love hate relationship with the yellow rose. It all started with one of my fondest memories with my mom, before her death in 1971. I was just a child when she died. In retrospect, she was just a child too. She was half of my current age, the mother of four, and even today as I look back it is hard to define, who was raising who.
No matter the faults one might try to find, she was a good provider. She worked hard to keep us all together. It was “us” against the world, until there was no more us… and the world became so big that it consumed us all.
There were two places that mom loved in Walla Walla…. where we lived. One was Rooks Park, and the other was Pioneer park. I still go to Pioneer Park, and walk through the roses, climb the massive trees and daydream. It is there that I can still feel her hands brushing my hair away, and whispering how she loved the roses… “especially the yellow roses.” she would say.
After placing the new rose in the dirt today, I snipped off this bud and gingerly tucked it in my hair, even now I pause to pull it close, it smells sweet, and I find it calming. My finger still bleeds from the thorns, but it seems right somehow so I don’t place a band aide over it. The steady stream of tears fall on the pedals like rain falling from the sky, that too, feels right.
I read once that the significance of the “Yellow Rose” means, “remember me.” Which seems crazy, how could I ever forget? You run through my every fiber… It’s almost laughable. I cannot recall one moment in my life that my heart didn’t call out for you, yet, everywhere I see them, the yellow rose… It, in an odd way makes me feel that you are there. I have seen them in the oddest of places, that it makes me smile.
The yellow rose I planted today, join the two I have planted before. These two now frame the arbor my hubby made for me to give these roses their proper place… One was planted for my mom, and the other for her mom, now this third one… for my beautiful sister Penny Jo.
She is gone way to soon. I can still recall my mom’s deep sadness… depression really, around the same time every year. Later in life I came to understand that it was around Penny’s birthday. Penny was raised by her dad, and my only memories of her, were through the profound sadness that flooded over our mom, with Penny’s absence. Mom made sure that we siblings always knew that there was a plate missing at our table. She was always the sadness in mom’s eyes that we couldn’t change.
When mom died, we were all scattered….all the sudden it wasn’t just Penny who was lost, we were all lost. It seems we have spent our whole lives, trying to find one another.
Penny did find me in 1981 . I couldn’t have been happier. She was everything I wanted… needed her to be. But, she soon fell off the radar again, as did Shell and Bill, and somehow life went on. I got married, had children, put one foot in front of the other…. and did ok, unless I would hear a song like “There are holes in the floor of heaven.” and that same sadness that I had seen take over my mom… seemed to take residence in my own life.
I had tried for years to find them…not sure what I would say when I did. How do you mend something so horribly broken? But, last year a detective friend of mine, did find all of them. I regret having waited so long. Just knowing that we were finally all “together” changed my life in a profound way. Made me feel more complete in some odd way. I remember driving to Pioneer Park, sitting at the gazebo, looking up to the sky and telling mom. I knew she would be happy. When I closed my eyes, I could see the sadness of her eyes, change and smile back at me.
The events of this last week wasn’t how I thought it would play out. Only a month ago, Penny, Shell and I were talking about Shell and I making a trip out to Texas where Penny has made her life, raised her babies and watched them have babies of their own. That sweet little baby that Penny introduced me too in 1981 is now 32 with two babies of his own.. I can still hear her calling him sluggo!!! and making me laugh.
The feeling of completeness that I felt only a couple of months ago has now been replaced by that childhood feeling that once again, someone is missing from the table. The white dished that I collect, that remind me of my mom, now cry out P.J’s name too. The fresh dirt under my nails, reminds me that I wont wake up tomorrow and find that this is just a bad dream……
I try not to get stuck in the what if’s… the would have, should haves, the regrets, and try to focus on the fact that I had her, that I told her often this year that I loved her. That I can reach across the internet and tell her children that we loved their mom in ways they may never really understand. But, it’s a struggle. The regrets are paralyzing and take every bit of strength I can find to tame them.
I was thankful for a friends call this morning that pushed me to get dressed and try to take on life again, and I am thankful for a faith that while I don’t understand why’s, now, causes me to believe that there is a God who will sustain me. Grateful that God has helped me to learn the importance to surround myself with amazing friends who allow me to be weak, to fall apart without the pain of judgment, who stand in the gap until I can stand on my own again.
I have learned that the heart never really heals, it just learns how to beat inspite of the hole that it has in it, so I turn up the radio, stunned as if I had planned it, I hear…. “‘Cause there’s holes in the floor of heaven And her tears are pourin’ down That’s how you know she’s watchin’ Wishin’ she could be here now And sometimes if you’re lonely Just remember she can see There’s holes in the floor of heaven and she’s Watchin’ over you and me.
It brings comfort knowing…. or at least to think, that they are watching. It makes me want to be better, do better, live life fuller, dream bigger and love more fearlessly. I love you big sis…. go in peace. I planted a rose for you today.