A white rose for my memories

Bouquet of white roses and other blue and white flowers Alicia Butcher EhrhardtMEMORY TRIGGERS?

Things stay with you.

My Mamina, my mother’s mother, lost two boys. One, my uncle Joseph, was her last child, and lived only a day. The other, my uncle Billy, named after my grandfather Papa Memo (Memo is a nickname for Guillermo – William), came down with encephalitis at eleven.

My mother told me the story of how she rode in the taxi with my Papa Memo to take Joseph’s tiny coffin to the cemetery because Mamina was too devastated to go, and still dealing with the birth.

But she was only sixteen, and she missed her little brother Billy enormously, as of course they all did. A child of eleven is not really a child any more. It must have been very hard for my aunts Alicia and Betty, who were even younger.

Families cope with these catastrophes because they must, but it is to their credit that none of them became embittered in any way. My grandparents were some of the warmest people I have ever known, and showered me with love (and possibly a bit of favoritism) when my parents moved us all to Mexico in 1957.

I’m going far afield in a bit of background, but something has come, in an odd way, full circle, and I’m stopping to record it. I’m afraid if I don’t, I might forget.

Mamina told me one day in the garden of the house at Adolfo Prieto 1225, Colonia del Valle, Mexico City, of how, after Billy died, a day toward the end of the year, she came out to the garden to find a single white rose on one of the rosebushes, long after the end of the season, even in Mexico. And she knew, immediately, that Billy was at home in heaven, and safe.

They are with him now, as is my mother, Pepita. Yesterday I received a completely unexpected sympathy gift from, of all people, my financial advisers at Vanguard: a bouquet of flowers, blue – and white. With white roses.

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15 thoughts on “A white rose for my memories

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I think the general rule for coincidences in a book is that it has to make things worse – that’s what I try to maintain. Oh, and maybe one per book – and it better shorten something, not create it from scratch!

      We’re watching an Israeli show, Hostages, on Netflix or Amazon (can’t be bothered to remember which), but last night I had enough: they have so many coincidences added to so many, ‘Oh, come on!’ moments, that I can’t watch any more.

      Coincidences are not an excuse for not plotting!

      In life, though, we put our own symbolism on what happens to us – and it makes us think. We won’t know for sure about anything until we aren’t here any more, but we have to live meanwhile, and get through an abundance of things which could crush us. One way is to ignore everything bad (and hope someone will feed us when we’re old). Another is to find meaning and make peace.

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    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      So unexpected – I’ve thought of that moment with my grandmother very occasionally, and the roses brought it suddenly back. If you think about it, there is no other way I was going to get a white rose in November in NJ!

      Humans see patterns, even where there are none; I know that.

      But I’m also a writer, and I CREATE patterns deliberately (think of the white squirrel in Pride’s Children, and you’ll see what I did with the memory of the one time I saw a white squirrel dringing to my voice teacher’s house). Why? Because we need some things to be true in a changing world.

      I think it makes writers more sensitive to possibilities.

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  1. J.M. Ney-Grimm

    Our whole beings – and life – are a gift. Sometimes you feel you get a little message. I won’t require anyone to believe them, but they make me think.

    Yes.

    My father and I received what felt like a message to us.

    I called my father on his cell phone to check how he was doing. It just happened that he was visiting my mother’s grave at the moment I called. My mother is buried in Quantico National Cemetary, and her grave is located in a very broad stretch of grass with forest at its edges. It is beautiful and feels very peaceful.

    My father had placed a vase of flowers on her grave, and while he sat and read the Bible, a butterfly fluttered over to the largest bloom, mere moments before I called.

    My mother loved butterflies. The presence of one at this time and in this place felt as though God was saying, “All is well. I’ve got her. And I have you. Be at peace.

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