This was originally written on June 22, 2008:
My new house surprises me.
I bought this house in the winter. My first viewing of it was in late autumn. Cold and buried in snow most of the time, I hadn’t seen it in spring or summer.
Now that summer is only weeks away and we’ve had a pleasant spring, the life and beauty that surrounds the house surprises me. From the row of early spring tulips that emerged shortly after thaw. The lilac tree just off the back deck that attracts humming birds. The rich purple irises growing by the front steps… and even some other flowers, I don’t think I’ve ever seen or at least don’t know the names of.
But these beautiful little surprises pop up all over.
The landscaping is untamed and has obviously not been cared for in a long time. Thick weeds and creeping vines threaten to choke out the more decorative flowers and plants.
And in the back, next to the deck, a rose bush grows wild. The stems gnarled and random but blooming with bright yellow flowers. I’ve been busy lately and hadn’t noticed just how many blossoms it had.
Saturday I was doing some yard cleanup and seeing the roses in bloom struck me. It took me back. Back to my childhood and working with my grandfather. He loved roses and had rose bushes growing all over the yard. Mostly by the house, but some in the landscaping by the big pine tree. Some by the edge of the driveway. Red and pink and white roses… but my favorites were always the yellow ones.
I remembered helping him take care of the roses. How we would trim them down and wrap them to get them ready for the winter. How during the summer we would clean the flowers, and hunt the Japanese Beetles that would destroy the petals. He would come find me and say, “Hey Eagle Eyes.” Yes as he got older it was harder for him to find the beetles, so he would rely on me to help him.
I’d help him feed the chickens and water the garden. The last remnants of the 26-acre farm he used to manage while working full-time at the steel plant. He would work hard and I would work along side him. We would have lunch then sit in the shade of an umbrella-shaped crab apple tree and drink root beer.
I learned more from my grandfather than anyone else in my life. He inspired me and taught me patience. He taught me how to hold my temper and think before I react. He tried to teach me lessons of life – that tomorrow is another day and there’s always a solution to the problems of today. He taught me responsibility, “Sorry doesn’t fix the window,” always stuck in my mind. Basically, being polite and apologizing is important but you also have to take responsibility and solve the problem.
My grandfather passed away when I was 14. I treasure the time I got to spend with him, but always get tightness in my throat and tears in my eyes when I think of the time I didn’t get to spend with him.
The rose bushes are all but gone. Life got busy as I got older and other priorities took precedence with my time. A few still grow and come back every year after I trim them back… but none of them are the yellow ones.
My favorite ones.
I don’t really believe in fate or pre-destined things. I won’t look at the yellow roses and think, “it was fate that I bought this house,” or anything of that sort.
But I know I can go outside, and sit by those roses with a root beer, and remember...