The Rose Bush

When I started this blog, I reserved the right to post some older essays or poems that have been hanging out on my hard drive. I wanted to share this today because the rose bush is flowering now. Various changes have happened since I wrote this. My parents have a new senior community where they don’t have a deck and there have been other complications, but we do have a (relocated daughter) rose bush blooming in our yard.

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Today, April 19, 2007, is my parents’ 53rd wedding anniversary. It is also twelve days until they move from the cozy, two-bedroom bungalow they have owned for 18 years into a two-bedroom apartment in a senior living community a few miles away.

The move is their own choice, not precipitated by any health emergency. They want to settle into a place with transportation, meals, housekeeping, recreation and other services, available to use as they need them in the coming years.

They have been going through their attic, basement, garage, and five rooms, choosing what to bring with them, what to send to our home, what to give to each of my two sisters, and what to donate to charity.

There is one important heirloom that they can’t bring with them or give to anyone – a rosebush.

Beside every home that they have shared for 53 years, my parents have transplanted a rosebush that grew next to my mother’s childhood home in Hoosac Tunnel, Massachusetts.

This is not a spindly, delicate, high-maintenance, hybrid tea rose, but a rose bush that is only a generation away from its wild cousins. Its stems are thick with thorns and its leaves are more abundant and a fresher, brighter green than the florist kinds of roses. Its blossoms have deep pink petals, which open in the sun to reveal a large cluster of yellow stamens, heavy with pollen. Unlike highly cultivated varieties, these roses’ scent is intense and attracts many bumblebees, who drink the nectar, busily fill the pollen sacs on their legs, fly to their nest, and then return for more. In testament to the work of the bees, when the petals flutter down to the ground below the bush, it produces large, bright red rose hips that decorate the branches for months.

Planted at their current home with its slightly warmer climate, the bush has grown very large and often produces a second round of blossoms in late summer. It is also part of the landscaping of their house, and as such, is being sold along with it. Given its current size, it also could not be transplanted again without serious damage to its roots.

This heirloom rose bush will still be close to our family, though. Fifteen years ago, we transplanted a shoot from the rose next to our own home, where it has thrived. Now we will propagate a new bush from it and put it in a container that my parents can keep on the little deck off their living room at the apartment.

It should be ready to bud a few weeks after their 54th anniversary.