"That girl and her roses!" Sarah exclaimed a few weeks ago when I explained my Daddy and Bubba were harvesting sister's rose bushes in Rhome to be transplanted in her memorial garden in Hooks.
I laughed inside and said, "Girl, we are from east Texas. If there's one thing we're SUPPOSED to know, it's roses!"
There are over 100 species of roses in the world. These blooms, cultivated for their pretty colors and fragrance, "form a group of erect [that's what she said!] shrubs, and climbing or trailing plants, with stems that are often armed with sharp prickles" (Wikipedia 4/21/11). Gayla and I have a plethora of rose bushes in our respective yards. We learned to grow them from our Mama and Daddy who have always had roses. We know they need sun and water to survive, and we know that on February 14th each year, we need to whack them down to almost nothing so they will burst forth with their beauty when spring arrives.
Roses are like road trips with friends. There are hundreds of destinations to choose and just as many reasons to go to each one. Each vacation builds our friendships with deeper roots of respect and more beautiful resilient memories. Even if the friendship has been "whacked down to almost nothing" with a long time between visits, a road trip with friends can nourish the friendships with sun and water so that they "burst forth with their beauty." Road trips with friends can be quick jaunts to the river or just a jump to an even longer cruise around the gulf. Road trips with friends are beautiful in the sites we see, the joy we feel at each little inside joke or oopsie-daisy we incur, the good food (and bad) we consume, and the memories they make to cherish and talk about for years to come.
Roses are individual beauty protected by thorns much like our friends are remarkable people protected by our love. Gayla was a superb gardener of roses and friends. With both, she provided nourishment and care and reaped bountiful blooms. With our caretaker gone, we all are taking turns being the gardeners and making sure our friendships continue to bloom as she would expect.
Special Note: I struggled today with coming up with a Note for the letter "R." I sent out a distress signal to Sarah Gray, Sarah Haws, Mike Smith, and Jeremy Hamilton. Almost immediately, each sent me the inspiration to write today's tribute. I thank each of you for inspiring me every day to move forward and to embrace this life's changes. Your love through this horrible time has been my life boat. I'll love you forever; forever my family you'll be.