Oscar Wilde wrote, “A flower blossoms for its own joy,” and while he is one of my favorite authors, I disagree with this quote. Flowers can neither enjoy their own fragrance nor know their own beauty or the joy they bring to others.
As one last outing, Lisa wanted to go to the nursery to see the roses on Sunday. She had not been out of bed in almost two months, so the procedure we went through to get her there, with the wheelchair and oxygen tank stuffed into the car on a 90+ degree Texas summer day was daunting for me and the kids, it was punishing for Lisa. We had traveled no more than half a mile before she vomited all of the pain medication pills I had given her not ten minutes before. And yet she would not allow me to turn around. We were going to see the roses.
Of course, anyone who knows Lisa knows how much she loves her garden and her flowers, especially her roses. She researched and selected each one, labeled them with brass tags and spent countless hours pruning and tending to them. Like the rose in Antoine de Saint- Exupéry’s The Little Prince, she loved each of them because of their pure beauty and the work she had put in each of them.
As I pushed her wheelchair through the rough, rocky terrain (and pulled the oxygen tank behind me) she stopped me to read about the varieties of roses and admired their beauty (as if she was looking to fill a hole in the garden). It was then that it dawned on me that she is just like a rose. There is no better description or personification in nature than the rose. She is a rose.
She is brutally honest and unflaggingly faithful. She reminds me of the quote from Alphonse Karr, who wrote, “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses,” and the quote from Anne Brontë, who wrote, “He who dares not grasp the thorn should never crave the rose.” Having her in my life has brought me thorns and flowers, but I would never have traded the former for the latter because one without the other would destroy the rose that she is.
Even now, after being brutalized by cancer and chemo, she can be seen in the poem of Robert Frost
“The rain to the wind said,
‘You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed.
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged — though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.”
And yet, while the rose is fading, she does not know her own beauty or the joy she brings to others, she is loved. She is a rose. She is my rose.