When mom and I got out of the car, at the Antique Rose Emporium* it was as if she shed her dementia and I forgot all about it. We wandered into a timeless, and for us, almost mythical place.
Roses are healing.
She walked, smiling, down the lovely rose-lined paths with her now faltering steps, and I followed her, no less affected than she seemed to be.
It was as if we both felt a sense of peace, restoration, familiarity and relief; those bright, curving walkways leading us to the past, expanding the present, making the future irrelevant for now- while the roses looked on, their sweet, serene faces gently swaying in the breeze, glowing in the mild, fall sunshine. They seemed to welcome us.
We walked, reading their names, these names as familiar as a litany of cousins, brothers or household saints; part of my mother’s every day language.
Duchesse Brabant, Old Blush, Abraham Darby, laMarque, Baily Red, Ducher, Cecile Brunner, Red Cascade, Mermaid, the Fairy, Graham Thomas, Dame de Cour …
We meet here in dreams- meet each other, or friends, sometimes even family members long gone. Here where past and present merge, and moments are easily savored, it is a perfect place for the kind of dream that imprints itself on the soul forever.
We meet here often in reality too: picnics, Mother’s Days, birthdays, tea parties with mom and her best friend, Ellen, or to pick out roses for planting time.
On some visits Mom and I were so engrossed in roses, we didn’t notice the kids under our feet, or that they were running down the path, disappearing with the wagon.
Pictures of us all in this place dot our family albums, as well as mom’s massive volume of photos, labels and histories of her own roses.
I was tired and did not want to take any pictures that day. Mom had left her camera in the car, too. Pictures can only snatch at time. They never really catch anything.
We wandered happily in the temple of our many meetings.
Mom and I exclaimed over scents, over loveliness both new and familiar. We passed the big old house with its wrap-around porch, walked down brick paths and gravel, around fountains and enclosures, past the statue of Our Lady of the Rosary, where we had often stopped to pray with the kids. We stood in the center of the gazebo where my brother and his wife were married on another fall day years ago. Silent and still, we held hands, smiled and remembered.
“Roses are healing,” I said aloud, and the roses seemed to nod and smile.
“Yes,” she said, “they are.”
She chose four rose bushes, becoming more and more distracted, wandering off now and then, so that the process of buying them took a long time.
The spell, like all spells, must wear off.
I loaded up the roses, and we drove back to reality- or a different one, anyway. But I think we were both conscious of a special blessing.
Roses are healing. Roses are holy. And some places are made timeless by love.