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From Me to You:
The Last Rose StandingIf O. Henry had the ‘The Last Leaf’, that lovely short story about how the stubborn last leaf on a barren wintry tree convinced a sickly young woman to be resilient and recover from her illness, I have ‘the last rose’ in my backyard. And while the last leaf was an illusion, a leaf painted on a withered tree by the girl’s sweetheart to give her hope, my red rose is very real, soft velvety petals deliciously bundled together.
Every year it’s a blazing riot of red roses in my backyard but by the end of October, they all wither and die, bowing to the inevitable coming of a harsh New York winter. The rose season actually has got over but no one seems to have informed the poor deluded red rosebud. In a bush of dying leaves and shriveled rose petals, it has suddenly shot up, bright and radiant, oblivious of the callous winter and the screaming, whistling winds.
So while we all reluctantly put away our summer sandals and tank tops, our flip-flops and our sunshades and learned to dress like grownups in staid coats, mufflers and hats, and the troops of roses dutifully departed for the year, this wild little rosebud moves in the wind like a lone, intoxicated dancer. I like to think it’s tipsy on life, tipsy for adventure. As winter engulfs New York, this defiant rosebud facing the elements somehow cheered me up, made me happy.Then came the first snowfall of the season and people huddled at home or braved the white stuff swathed in coats and scarves. I glanced out anxiously at the lone rosebud which had begun flowering just a few days ago. The snowflakes became bigger and bigger and were now covering that little blob of red. I was getting a little paranoid – it was as if I had sent my pre-schooler out without a jacket! Would the rose be able to survive?
Finally as the snow got heavier, I went out bundled in my jacket and covered the rose in a plastic sandwich bag and secured it with a tie. Now let the winds rage and the snow fall!The next morning, the snow had subsided, though everything was still carpeted in white. I gingerly removed the plastic cover – the rose was safe! The branches of the bush were drooping but by the end of the day the rose was sprightly and facing skywards once again.
A true survivor.
I don’t know how long it will last – after all, roses can’t live forever. But this spunky rose has made me remember a truth that we often choose to forget: our time on earth is fleeting and we must spread as much beauty, as much happiness as we can in the time allotted to us…