My adopted mother had thirty-six major surgeries before we lost her to intestinal blockages. She spent many days bound to the bed, propped up by feather pillows. I busied myself fluffing them for her. I guess it was my way of trying to make her more comfortable. But in all honesty, I just wanted to be near her as much as possible.

Mom and Dad became my guardians when my biological mother abandoned me, and they decided later to adopt me. I also spent some time with our neighbor, Rose.

It was a beautiful spring day, and on such days you could find me walking down the country path to an elderly neighbor's home. It was my retreat from the cares of the world. She was so kind and gentle with me. Her patience seemed to be without end. When she smiled, it warmed my heart. We could talk for an hour. But the real reasons for my visits were her magnificent flower garden, and a little comforting conversation.

Rose's home sat back off the road and her driveway curved back and forth with large shade trees towering over the road to meet in the center. In the distance I could see her flowers in bloom. All spring and summer, different varieties, sizes, and shapes grew. They perfumed both the outside and inside of her home. The sweet scent of gardenia permeated the front yard as I entered. (I can still smell that wonderful fragrance when I think about her.)

The house was small and simple. It had a wrap-around porch (we called it a veranda,) that beckoned us to "come sit a spell." That is exactly what I did, as I sipped on refreshing lemonade she kept handy for such visits. In the ceiling of the porch was a fan for those hot, sultry southern days. And so it was, we shared the simple things in life, stories of her childhood, and my concerns for my mother and her health.

We strolled through her garden at ease, as she named each variety and color of flower in bloom. She often carried a basket across her arm in which she'd randomly bend down and snip a few as we walked and talked.

One day as we were taking a stroll, she stopped and sat down on her wooden bench, which I called her "wisdom bench," because it was there she often shared a few tidbits about life in general. I always left there feeling as if something wonderful and magical had been instilled in me. This day, as she looked deeply into my eyes, tears began to form. But instead of saying anything, she just gathered my tiny body to her and held me for some time.

We made our way back to her house, singing as we walked. Before I left, she asked me to wait while she went inside. When she came back out, she had a beautiful bouquet that she had placed in a large glass vase with a bow around it. She handed them to me and said to give them to my mother. Along with it was a note which said, "Thank you for sharing your daughter. I hope to see you soon around the bend."

That beautiful lady and her home have long since left this world. But her gentleness, wisdom, and love abides forever in my heart. As for the flowers....they still came up every spring.

I moved from that wonderful southern town, married, and now have adult children and grandchildren of my own. I hope that I can share my love of flowers, and the wisdom taught to me, but most of all, I hope they will learn love and compassion as I did from Rose. I want their world to be a better place because some of Rose was instilled in me.

©Marie Williams
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