mom's roses

A few months ago, I finally did something which was important to me. This particular something I had been wrestling with in my mind for several years. In anticipation of the sale of the house in which I grew up, I had been planning on taking care of some unfinished business. When Mom passed away suddenly and unexpectedly in the summer of 2011, she left behind a wonderful legacy in the form of five children and three grandchildren. Family meant everything to Mom. “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”–Abraham Lincoln  As I have shared previously, Mom loved to spend time in the kitchen. Of the many ways to demonstrate her love for us, surely her cooking was near the top of a long list. But, Mom was multi-talented. She had a degree in interior decorating. She sacrificed much of this passion so that we were always well taken care of at any point in our lives. But instead of becoming permanently lost, Mom’s creativity simply branched out. I mean literally out, as in outside. No, she did not share Dad’s enthusiasm for walking or bicycling. If it can be said that anyone was born with a green thumb, that someone would be my mom. What she willingly surrendered indoors she made up for a hundred fold outside. Mom’s rose gardens were a magnificent sight to behold. They didn’t just adorn the front yard for all passers-by to see, but they extended all the way around the sides of the house into the backyard and including behind the garage. They were everywhere the eye could behold. And, yes, they were beautiful.

After nearly three and a half years of pondering a massive undertaking, I discovered that I had left myself with precious little time for action. I had always hoped to transplant as many of the roses to our home as would be possible. It appeared that my procrastination had been very costly. Worse than the delay, was the realization that no one had cared for them since Mom died. Though not purposeful in nature, the obvious neglect had nonetheless caused severe damage. I was terrified that it was irreparable. Life gets busy. Often, we put things on the back burner. Too often, that is precisely where they sit, day after day, hoping for another glance, even another chance.

Imagine my disappointment when I finally commenced “operation transplant”, only to find a heap of lifelessness. With desperation, I cleaned out the gardens looking for any sign that would give me hope that this endeavor would prove fruitful. I cleared away leaves, and pulled weeds, and cut through vines to uncover what remained of the roses. I frantically dug here a little, there a little, and everywhere. You would never believe what breath-taking beauty had once emanated from this current landscape. What remained of the roses, from their stems, branches, and roots was nothing worth writing home about. Despite their condition, I figured I would attempt to salvage a few.

As I made the short twenty minute drive from my parent’s old house to my humble abode, I was overcome with emotion “Why, why did I not do this earlier?” Have you ever felt that even your best efforts were in vain? I almost convinced myself that this attempt was completely pointless. The excitement for this great adventure which had literally consumed my heart and mind had gone south. For a brief moment, I actually gave up. In anger I cried out in disgust at the mess in my car created by the pathetic looking remnants of my Mom’s rose bushes. I took out my frustration on them. I was racked with guilt. After all, was I not partially to blame for their condition? Notwithstanding my defeatist attitude, I made it safely home and was determined to follow through with the plan. As silly or stupid as it may have appeared to someone watching, I put them in the ground. What else was I going to do? I’d come this far.

How easy would it have been for me to say, “That’s it. I’m finished!” Well, it would have been very easy to do nothing more. I could have just shrugged my shoulders, thrown up my hands, and left the barren roses to die another death. However, a voice inside of me whispered to keep going. Given my inexperience, I wasn’t exactly sure where to go from there or how to proceed. After significant pondering and reflection, an answer came to me. “Do the things which you have seen me do.” I searched my memories. I did recall watching Mom, the great care-taker of all the roses, do some simple things. “Out of small things proceeds that which is great.”So, I nurtured them. I loved them as my mom had loved them for many years. Every day I did something for the benefit of the roses. I never let a day go by wherein I did not perform a task, however insignificant it might have been, for the well-being of those plants. I made their rehabilitation part of my daily routine. Time passed. I didn’t notice any changes, but I stuck to the plan. Before too long, I had to acknowledge that something good was happening. Though my eyes could not detect any difference in the roses, I perceived that the real change was occurring in me.

Strangely, I began to enjoy this daily routine. I was no longer simply going through the motions. The monotony of the same daily ritual in my garden was transforming into time that I actually treasured. I began to have hope once again. My faith increased that my work would be rewarded as I diligently did those things Mom had done. It struck me one day that my mom had acquired her skills from my grandmother. She wasn’t born in a garden knowing all things. She learned line upon line, precept upon precept. It is the prescribed manner in which we must all be schooled in this life. I’d like to say that I was physically present when the first shade of green appeared in the roses, but I was not. Yet, as I look back on it, it seemed to occur overnight. Miraculously, there was now life where there had been none. Though I had experienced discouragement and depression due to my procrastination, “my joy was now as exquisite as had been my pain.” The roses had been reclaimed. In time, their beauty was restored. Today, I can share that beauty with others as Mom had done with so many people in the old neighborhood.

The lesson is timeless. Don’t ever give up on yourself. There is always hope that you can regain control of your health. You may not reclaim the fullness of your former glory in this lifetime, but you can be redeemed. Your beauty can still shine through those years of neglect. “However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you think you have made or talents you don’t think you have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love.”–Jeffrey R. Holland “Do something today that your future self will thank you for!”–unknown  Delaying any further will be detrimental to you and your posterity. What legacy do you wish to leave behind?