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The Bigmama Rose: An Easter Story

The rose is scraggly. Its head droops. The petals cannot hold their shape. It’s damn lucky to be here.

One Mother’s Day, a long time ago, my dad gave my grandmother a rosebush. The bush was planted beside the lattice gate.  The two-story, white-columned house has a grand front door, but everyone comes and goes through the back gate. The rosebush grew large and tangled and mighty. It threatened to grab everyone who entered (what were they thinking, planting it in such a well-traveled path?). In the spring it was covered with a blanket of pale pink, delicate roses. Soon, my dad died, quite young. Later, Bigmama died, quite old. Then the rosebush began to die, and now it’s dead.

In an act of great foresight, my uncle several years ago undertook to make cuttings for us girls from the rosebush. My sister’s “offspring” formed a massive arch large enough for her daughter to stand beneath. My bush undulated down the side of my yard, attached to the house, and every spring bloomed with a ferocity belied by its delicate blossom.

Then we decided to to sell our house. To move. To leave my yard behind.

I couldn’t leave the rosebush.

My caring gardener hacked the rosebush down to size (I should say “trimmed,” but you can’t trim a monster.) He shoveled up the root ball and wrapped it in a green tarp. We then drove 400 miles with the thorny bush (and the dog) in the back seat of the car (with one overnight stop), drenching it with water along the way. We arrived on Saturday night and could not be put it in the ground until Monday afternoon. I packed compost into the tarp and left the water hose trickling on it day and night.

It was too late in the season to move the bush, but that’s where circumstances landed us. It was outrageous to cut our trip in two and spend the night with the rosebush on my cousin’s driveway, but that’s what our schedule called for. And why did we arrive on the weekend, requiring another delay in getting it in the ground?

We had asked too much.

And four days later, this bloom appears.

I had wanted the bush to focus its energy on getting re-established. But it’s blooming, and tender red stems of new growth are appearing. It might not make it, I don’t know. Or it might be as indomitable as the grandmother to whom it was given—Bigmama lived to be 102. Whatever happens, it decided that life was too short not to bloom while it could.

The Bigmama Rose

Easter story

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