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Gail Ylitalo

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White Roses
By Gail Ylitalo
Monday, November 03, 2003

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REFLECTIONS ON A FATHER'S LIFE AND DEATH.


White, velvet petals clung to long, thorny green stems as sunlight danced around the blooms and rendered a gentle touch to nature’s continuum. A moment’s reflection causes a slight twinge of sadness and regret. The sadness is for the loss, and the regret is for all the memories that will never come to be. Death had waited like the four horsemen in the apocalypse. There was no visible sign that a life was ending but the ticking of a clock that reminded one of the ghostly click-clack of horse’s hooves.

It’s still there, the rosebush, but the view is strangely different, a misty memory of his last year and the sharp, clear remembrance of what was. There were no white roses last year, and perhaps a shadow of love tenderly watches over them now. I did mourn for my father, but I think the family mourned for what was not said.

He would sit alone, most likely thinking, but that would be only a guess. A question would not interrupt his private contemplation so any observations made would quickly become moot. He accepted the fact that death hung about his gaunt frame and sought out the company of the roses to assuage his fear. He certainly wasn’t going to offer a verbal discourse on why he took such tender care of the rosebush. The bush, like my father, was struggling to become something more. The physical world did not concern him now. He would bend low over the plant as if a secret were being shared. An explanation didn’t matter to me. He was still here, and we were connected. The scene was placed in some little pocket of the mind to be reborn at a later date, when the sweet scent of a memory was needed.

I visit the roses from time to time. Did the bare, struggling limbs of the sickly plant bring hope to his eyes, eyes filled with a pain that others could not understand? Did his thoughts take him back to that long ago day when he’d so lovingly placed the fragile plant into the ground? Each season gave way to another as he watched for a white rose.

Stalked by shadows of the future, time had lost meaning for him, and because of this a premature burial was held. Dad was not “Dad” any longer. He’d become a living ghost and was a member of some spiritual dimension. As his own strength failed, the roses grew stronger. We would help him to the window so he could see the beauty of his work. His words were weak, but hope spoke through childlike eyes.

I often wonder about his private thoughts during those long, painful hours of dying. I clung to the belief that he would see many white roses as the final journey was made. They would be covered in dew and sparkle in a heavenly light, and he’d be sitting beside them, sighing with contentment. His suffering would be rewarded, but our grief could not be shared with the roses. I’d wished he would live long enough to see them in full bloom, but this was not to be.

This morning the sun did find his white roses covered with dew and the curtains, to what used to be his room, closed.


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Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 11/3/2003
nice write and a beautiful tribute to your father. may he live on in memory! (((HUGS))) and much love, your freind in texas, karen lynn. :(


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