Thursday, December 23, 2010


Subj: Christmas roses
Date: Sat Dec 23 00:22:49 EST 2000

At lunchtime, I knew pretty much what I wanted to write about tonight - snow and bone-chilling temperatures, children slip-sliding outside on the sidewalk, and me snug and cozy in the big chair in the living room. I was going to write about Lockhart trips down to Wanamaker's on Market Street, meeting people at "the Eagle," the magnificent light-fountain-organ shows that left us all slack jawed year after year after year. I was going to write about cold walks home from Bethayres station, a chilly house and hot cocoa.

Then the afternoon - and a delivery van - rolled around and everything changed.

Karen, thank you for the beautiful flowers. Have you ever experienced a sense of magic when a florist's van pulls up in the driveway? There is something about florists that is disarmingly enchanting. The arrangement is stunning, with white spider mums (they remind me of the best sort of fireworks), red and white carnations, holly and holly berries, and beautiful, fragrant red roses.

The sight and rich scent of the red roses took me back 27 years, to the day of Pete's memorial service in March. (I know I have told this story before, but one of the privilege's of advanced years is having license to retell classic tales.)

All through the day, I had been missing Mike and Kerry, especially after Willard's simple and profoundly moving service. Returning from the church to what felt like a profoundly empty house, I walked into our dining room and caught the scent of something wonderful.

Behind the dining room door, on top of the china cabinet, stood a large classic green urn filled with the most beautiful red roses I have ever seen. The petals looked like the finest velvet and the scent was truly heavenly.

There was a card from Michael and Kerry (Scott and Karen not yet even a gleam in their parents' eyes), something along the lines of "Thinking of you at this special time."

Knowing they were with us in mind and heart deeply moved me and lifted my spirits. Because of those roses and that brief note, I had the comfort of feeling like they were close by me.

Well, when Mike and Kerry called later on that same day to hear about the service, I thanked them for the roses and said how much it meant to me to have them waiting for us on our return home. I must have mentioned at least three times the perfect timing before I noticed an absolute silence on the other end. Finally, one of them said, "What roses?"

It turned out that they had sent the roses at Christmas - a month before Pete collapsed and he was diagnosed with cancer, three months before he died. They had wondered why we never mentioned receiving them at Christmas.

That whole thing will forever give me pause and make the hair on the back of my head, right where it meets the neck, rise. What wondrous hand was at work? The timing, the card, the rightness of the arrangement. Makes me wonder.

I will think of that amazing time and of Karen, who is always in my heart and too long not in my arms, whenever I look at the beautiful arrangement from her that arrived this afternoon.

Elsa set it on the island, where it reigns supreme, flanked by our three Beyer's Choice carolers - the grey-haired lady in red velvet with a muff on one side, the younger couple keeping close together standing on the other. I took one last look as I headed up the wooden hill. It is a blessing to feel such happiness and love. Karen, your "little pressie" was a big hit.

It is way past my bedtime. Am off to bed with thoughts of loved ones far, far away, especially a much loved, much missed granddaughter.

Love – Nan Lockhart

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