A Rose Bloomed in Georgia

The very first time I met Brandon’s grandparents, Gramma Rose sat me down and showed me all the photo albums she could.  Afterward, she busted out a diagram of the family tree and told me everyone’s names, where they came from, and how she’d contacted so-and-so to get all of this information pulled together.  I asked how she and Papa met and she went into fantastic detail: “…a blind date, but it was on a Tuesday.  I said, ok, whatever, if it didn’t go well, I wouldn’t be losing out on a Friday night” and we laughed and laughed.  She’d told me not to refer to them as sir and ma’am, but Papa and Gramma, like the rest of the family.

On January 8th, 2016, after a beautiful 87 years, 56 of which were spent with Papa, Gramma Rose passed away.

We left home as soon as we were able to be with Papa and help in any way we could, and it still doesn’t feel like enough.  What we did felt so practical and and I wanted to do more; to be able to hug and touch the things no one would openly talk about with my soul.  I can’t pretend to have fully grasped all the emotions felt by everyone after the passing of their matriarch, much less the ones held back by his quiet demeanor and sad eyes.  There are brush strokes all over their faces, their lives, their stories and their laughter and for a few days, that’s all I could focus on and had to it write it out.

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Every room is colored with flowers, roses included, in various ways: there are paintings, plants, and even a little tea light in the bathroom shaped in her namesake.

Now that I know her favorite color is red (I asked before arriving), I can see it everywhere and know I need not have asked.  Her chairs, the waste bins, her clocks, her picture frames, the landline phone, the accent wall, the dining room tablecloth, the tissue box-cover, a lampshade shaped like a hat, her salt shaker, and even the dish rack in the kitchen … are all a very specific shade of red.

There are so many pictures of them on the wall, and though the family isn’t the most emotionally expressive, you can see it there, in them, in the smiles and non-smiles.  The paintings are beautiful, too; they’re of landscapes and random houses and windmills and she made them herself, sometimes signed Rose, sometimes just R, and the frames are all different styles and colors.  No one cares that they’re not hanging perfectly parallel to the ground.  That wasn’t the important part.

Each room is lined with beautiful hand bells of all shapes and sizes, with who knows how many fascinatingly everyday stories each one holds inside of their quieted voices.

You can vividly see and hear the memories of a little boy in this house:  young Brandon having coffee in the mornings with Papa before going to help him at work;  sweepstakes and envelopes and stamps at the kitchen table in a neat little production line; wanting to sleep in the same room as them and setting up a makeshift bed at the foot of theirs.

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In her memory, I’d like to ask everyone to hug your loved ones, spend time with them when you’re able, and take silly photos together that you can dig up later on and laugh and cry and reminisce.  Life is long and life is short and there’s just enough time to fill it with “I love you’s” that you can mean with all your heart when shared with friends or lovers or grandparents.  Get dressed up and go out, dance, sing, make silly poses, and love everything.