A Rose-Colored Memory
Over the weekend I bought a vase of roses for my dinner date. The florist did an amazing job of arranging the flowers, even stopping me before I left their shop so they could add to the arrangement and make the flowers look even better. They re-tied a bow on the vase and thanked me for their business.
That should have been it, take them on the way to dinner and all would be fine.
As those flowers sat all day on my kitchen table, though, they began to spark something I had long forgotten.
The smell of those roses permeated the whole house and suddenly I was a little boy again, tiny, walking in a striped shirt and holding hands with my grandma in her front yard in my home in the Midwest.
My grandma, you see, had one of the greatest rose gardens I can remember. Right adjacent to her house, between the driveway and the sidewalk leading to their back door, was bush after bush of roses the likes of wish most people had never seen . . . and some of those flowers will never been seen again.
My grandmother was a test grower for one of the plant companies that sold plants via a catalog. Where today they buy their plants online and such then you had to get a paper catalog and order your plants.
When the companies started making new hybrids of flowers, someone had to test how they handled the climate, the soil, the treatment, and report just how well they bloomed. As a little boy I remember when they would come in and occasionally I’d help her plant some new hybrid in her garden. It would seemingly take forever for those bushes to have an explosion of color from that thorny jungle by her house.
Some colors, names like “sterling silver” or peach color merged with blood red . . . the velvety petals would unfold on the bristly branches in the garden. My grandma planted and cut roses, handing them out to family and friends as they bloomed throughout the spring.
She also would cut flowers I simply cannot get here where I live now. She had white, pink and purple lilacs in her yard and at an old farm where they used to live. I would go with her and we would cut the pink and white branches from the bushes and put them in water. The house car and our house smelled of lilacs and to this day if I smell them I smile and think of driving around with my grandma and handing out the wonderful flowers.
So when I came down the stairs for my Valentine’s Day and smelled the roses, I was momentarily aghast, washed over with memories of that beautiful flower garden. I remembered the car drives, lilac petals lightly floating down to the floor of the car. When I was little, this woman, Irish background, had met my Persian grandfather and heard him call me “Davood”, the Farci pronunciation of my name. It stuck with her and she always called me that. So smelling those flowers I remembered my grandma, getting out and saying “come get these flowers for Auntie Mary, Davood!”
You might read this and think, having all these memories wash over me in that one, precise moment, I might just be down and melancholy. Instead, I smiled, the most pleasant of memories of my grandma coming over me, had me reaching for that vase and heading out the door.
There was no better way to start a Valentine’s weekend.
And I hadn’t even left the house yet.