Laura Nell

Do you like roses?  I do.  A lot.

Quite a few grow in my garden.  I know their names, I anticipate their blooms in spring.  My secret desire is to grow every David Austin English Rose pictured in the catalog I keep under my bed.  The Souvenir de la Malmaison climbing rose outside the kitchen door is a delight to the senses.  But if I had to abandon this place tomorrow it would be simple to choose the ones I would take with me.  I’d leave with a cutting in each hand.  They wouldn’t be from the plants with an English or French name.  I don’t even know the names of these roses, but I know their story.  Like my names, I received one of them from each of my grandmothers.  For me they are a link from the past to the future.

The name Laura and a rose with pink blooms came from my maternal grandmother.  She married my grandfather in 1937 and moved to the West Texas farmhouse my mom and her sisters lovingly refer to as “the dirty home” .   The pink rose grew along with lilacs on the north side of the little house.  Children were born in the house, sweet memories were made, and when the family moved, the rose moved with them.  My grandmother has watched it bloom from the window of a succession of homes for the last 73 years, but this coming spring will be different.  Her latest move was to the nursing home, and the rose did not go with her.  I am cheered to know that little pink blooms from my bush can fill a vase and bring the scents of the past to her tiny room.

Nell is my middle name, from my paternal grandmother .  She lives in the house built by my great grandfather in about 1924.  A beautiful red rose still grows there, planted by her mother-in-law, my great grandmother.  Like my grandmother, the rose is a survivor.  It has survived summer heat, winter cold, insects, and West Texas drought for many decades.  My grandmother was born in a half-dugout in Colorado, a tiny thing.  She wore her father’s handkerchief for a diaper and they barely kept her alive those first few weeks.   She survived and thrived and went on to raise a family of nine children and outlive all her siblings.  In addition to cooking, gardening and doing what it takes to care for a large family it was common to find her busy with other activities such as repairing a fence, running a tractor, or milking the cow.  That red rose in my yard reminds me that beauty and toughness can come in one package.

Laura and Nell.  Laura Nell.  Their names are my names.  Their roses grow in my garden.  Roses with no French name, no English pedigree, but great stories, because they are my story.  Past and future.