[Life] Last Rose of Summer


Last Rose of Summer

OK, I admit it, I hold on to things too long.

My basement is a testimony to that. The moveable landfill that used to be a spacious office is another.

But then there are those things that make sense, if only to me

I have, in a small box, the scorecard from the last baseball game my dad and I ever attended, 1969, Wrigley Field, just a few months before his death. That the scorecard is of a no-hitter is only secondary. My dad’s handwriting is on there. I also have the last can of Copenhagen which was in his pocket the day he died in my arms, of massive heart failure.

So, a wanderer might find a scorecard and say, “Hey this was a no-hitter” and then wonder about the empty snuff container in the same box.

We all have treasures like that.

One of my annual treasures is the last rose of summer.

I am pretty good, it turns out, at getting things to grow.

I didn’t know this into well into my 40s. The son of a steelworker likes having a piano is his house, likes statuary and likes growing things. But I know it now and really enjoy digging in the dirt, planting the little seeds of hope and seeing what happens.


Sometimes, nothing. Sometimes, a reward is delayed by a year and then suddenly a Black-Eyed Susan will pop up where none has been before or a Marigold will make a triumphant return appearance or even a pretty purplish something will burst into a summer’s bloom.

Don’t even start about morning glories or ivy; I have done so well they are leading the pack, cascading through each other and slowly surrounding the whole house. And a former table top Christmas tree is now taller than I am.

This ends about this time each year. The ivy hangs around in faded remission. The morning glories reseed themselves — a friend calls it ‘”volunteering” — and the rest just wither and either sleep all winter or sleep longer.

Except for the one rose bush which taps at Megs’ window on any windblown night. I keep the weedy vines off it all summer and always water it and its sister plants in that bed. Its job is grow at its own pace.

It always has a last bud, a final rose, reminding us of summer.

This last one bloomed right this past week. There it was, frozen forever in a red splash of splendor one icy morning.  It just happened my maternal grandmother died. She was the one who led us from her arrival in America from Slovakia before WWII, through being a single mom then by raising four young people in fine form as the midwife to the a generation of Slovaks in the whole Monongahela Valley. I had slipped one of the last roses oh that summer into her palms before they buried her. I was glad I did. She knows it and so do I.  

So I nipped this year’s edition and brought it in to work where it now hangs in my office, reminding me that anything planted with hope, nurtured with unrequited care and left to grow at its own pace is likely to reward you with a late splash of success.


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