Minus One Rose

    “Minus One Rose,” New Era, May 2003, 15

    Minus One Rose

    Giving flowers to their mom is one way my sons show their love. Perhaps the most memorable gift was when Jarom gave her one less than a dozen.

    As the father of seven sons, I have always wanted them to love, honor, and respect their mother. As the older ones have gone through their teen years and beyond, it has been gratifying to watch them do special things for their mother.

    My wife, Nicki, loves flowers. Over the years, it has not been uncommon for one of the boys to bring his mother a special bouquet of a dozen roses. These floral gifts haven’t necessarily come on Mother’s Day, her birthday, or some other special occasion, although they have come then too. More often than not, these timely gifts come spontaneously and unexpectedly just to say, “Thanks, Mom, for everything you do and for putting up with me.”

    Such was the case when Jarom, our mission-bound son, surprised his mother. Over the years Jarom had found words and gestures of love and appreciation difficult to come by. He was a big, handsome, muscular young man who could bench-press 300 pounds but still struggled to refine the delicate art of telling his mother he loved her.

    Of course, Nicki knew Jarom loved her, and she had accepted the fact that he would probably communicate his love and appreciation to her in other ways not associated with flowers, cards, or even spoken words.

    But one afternoon he walked into the house and handed her a bouquet of yellow long-stemmed roses. Somewhat taken aback, Nicki caught her breath and exclaimed, “Jarom, how beautiful!” She instinctively breathed in their rich fragrance. “I love them. One dozen yellow roses!”

    Jarom shrugged sheepishly and shook his head. “Actually, there are only 11,” he confessed. He cleared his throat and smiled bashfully. “I gave one of them away.”

    He paused and then explained. “I picked up the roses and was on my way home when I passed this girl from our neighborhood. She was about nine or ten, just kind of dragging down the sidewalk, looking really sad.” He shrugged and grinned. “So I figured, why not. I stopped, took a rose from your bouquet and handed it to her. I told her to have a great day.”

    “What did she do?” Nicki asked, curious.

    Jarom laughed. “Well, she wasn’t sad anymore.” He took a deep breath and added, “So that’s why you’ve only got 11 roses.”

    Nicki smiled for a moment and tried to picture in her mind that girl walking down the street, discouraged and perhaps crushed by some adolescent tragedy. In the midst of her sorrow she looks up and sees this big, handsome neighbor approach her with a single yellow rose, perhaps the first she has ever received in her life. He smiles at her, hands her the rose, and tells her to have a great day. She is probably flattered beyond words, and suddenly her gray day is brightened by the unexpected light from Jarom’s yellow rose.

    Illustrated by Melissa Ricks