The Last Rose of Summer

last rose2

The day began well as mornings with no agenda normally do. I awoke slowly and lingered in bed for a while before finally heading out to the kitchen to greet the dawn and start the coffee. The sun was peeking through the kitchen window above the sink, and as I washed out the coffee pot, I noticed that the floor wasn’t as chilly as it was the day before. It had been unseasonably warm during the night and out of curiosity, I stepped over to open the back door where I encountered a warm breeze entering through the screen which I have been reluctant to change to the storm window for several weeks now. I grinned as I thought to myself how occasional procrastination isn’t always such a bad idea. I continued to prepare the coffee and threw together a few items for breakfast.

Sitting comfortably on the sofa with my breakfast on the tray, I watched the news for a bit, but remembered that I had some chores to attend to in my office upstairs, and so I brought my cup out to the kitchen, filling it again, and headed up the stairs to get the day started. I gathered a few of my reference books off the shelves to prepare a response to a recent query from a friend, turned on the stereo already prepped with a Mozart CD, and hadn’t even lifted the cover on the book on top of the pile when I heard voices calling me downstairs. I stopped the music and replied to the voices which now seemed a bit more frantic than I was expecting, and wondered what might be the cause. Our oldest daughter had arrived to visit and swore she heard water dripping below the living room floor. With all the storms we’ve been having I chalked it up to leftover runoff from the gutters, but she insisted there might be something wrong, and so I grabbed the flashlight and went under the house for a look. Sure enough, the water filter under the house had sprung a leak, and there was about a half inch of water in the crawl space.

under the house

Clearly, it seemed the day had taken a nosedive at that point, since I realized that the only way to get to the leak was to crawl into this space and get to the other side of the house. “Oh, the joys of home ownership,” I thought to myself. After figuring out the repair strategy, and being joined under the house by my intrepid daughter, we managed to shut off the water, replace the filter housing and filter, and although sopping wet and filthy dirty, the repair was complete, and after turning the water back on we all clapped and cheered that at least it wasn’t worse.

upward glance

As I dragged my soggy self out from underneath the house, I took a moment to glance upwards and noticed that the sun had just gotten past the edge of the roof next door, illuminating the leaves and branches of the surrounding trees. There was water sloshing around in my shoes, my socks were soaked, and it felt like I weighed about twenty pounds more than normal with all the water weight I was carrying, but the job was complete and I took some solace in the fact that at least the sun was out, and the temperature was a mild 66 degrees Fahrenheit. All I could think about was getting in the shower and getting out of my waterlogged wardrobe.

mixed leaves2

Climbing up the back steps, I looked down and noticed that a variety of different colored leaves had begun to accumulate on the deck. Every year, with so many trees around the perimeter of the backyard, it’s a constant struggle to keep up with falling leaves, although I generally enjoy having them all around while the milder weather permits us to sit out there. The accrual of the multicolored remains from the summer trees is a gift in my view, and it hardly seems like a problem to me at all.

After getting showered and changed, I was sitting on the bed putting dry shoes on, when I looked out the window and gasped at the sight of the rose, clinging to the rosebush out front. I could hardly believe it was there. I hadn’t noticed it in the weeks leading up to the leak, and it seemed to have appeared overnight. Again, I grinned. For years, my mother would always describe someone who did not appear to be well as looking like, “the last rose of summer left a bloomin’ on the vine.”

rose up close

It seems that the “last rose of summer,” at least in this case, was the harbinger of a rosy outcome for my plumbing dilemma, and brought my mother to mind in a most appealing way. We are all tending to our mother at present as she endures the weight of all of her eighty-six years in home hospice care, and when I see her next, I will tell her about this day, and this rose, and we will both enjoy how the story brought her so vividly to mind.

3 thoughts on “The Last Rose of Summer

    1. In one sense, yes, it is a small thing…to stop and notice a beautiful lone rose in the autumn garden in a momentary glance out the bedroom window…but the beauty and the moment become more when placed in the context of a potent memory of how a loved one would always mention the phrase the rose brought to mind, the appreciation of the moment of beauty when it is least expected, and the solace of both memory and beauty…

      Thank you for the sweetness of your visit….John H.

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