Story of the Rose
The old man eased into a booth next to a window and made himself comfortable as he watched his grandson while he waited for their order at the counter. The old man looked forward to these Saturday visits with his grandson. This had become a tradition, which had started twelve years earlier when Bobby was four.
One morning the old man had taken Bobby’s chubby little hand in his, and without telling Bobby where they were going, led him along as they walked the three blocks to McDonalds. Once at McDonalds the old man treated Bobby to a Happy Meal and he had a cup of coffee while they talked about puppies, broken crayons or some other earth-shaking event in a four year olds life. Then on the next Saturday, Bobby grabbed the old man’s hand and said “C’mon Poppy, sgo to M’Donnel’s”, ….. and so it was, each Saturday there after. Every now and again they would miss a Saturday for some reason or another but most Saturday’s you could find them sharing a booth, talking about things in general and nothing in particular.
This Saturday was going to be a little different. The old man had seen a change in his grandson and he was hoping that he would be able to talk with him about it.
Over the years the old man had watched closely as his grandson grew. He had seen many changes take place, most were expected and for the most part, the old man was pleased in the way Bobby had developed, but lately he had seen some things that were disturbing to him. Bobby was raised in a Christian home and had a practical knowledge of the bible, however, this area in Bobby’s life still needed some nurturing. Some months earlier the old man had noticed that Bobby was not as faithful in attending church services as he had been. When he asked Bobby about his declining attendance, Bobby told him that he needed to study for finals. The final exams had come and gone and Bobby’s attendance had not improved; yet seemed to slack off even more.
The old man had also seen a change in Bobby’s attitude toward his parents. Bobby had always been cheerful and happy, he had always been obedient, doing what he was told and not daring to do what was forbidden, but that had changed. At first Bobby continued to obey his parents, although with noted reluctance, then slowly his attitude deteriorated into outright rebellion and now Bobby was starting to do the things that were forbidden. The old man knew it was past time for a talk and hoped that he would be able to reach Bobby, to once again grab that chubby little hand and lead him.
Bobby slid into the booth facing his grandfather and held a cup of coffee across the table with an outstretched arm..
“Here you go Poppy.”
The old man reached out and took the cup into both hands, placing it on the table in front of him. The old man stared into the cup for a long while, contemplating what to say, he knew he would have to choose his words carefully. He thought of telling Bobby the parable of the prodigal son, but he knew that in Bobby’s present state that story would not work. Bobby was no dummy, he would quickly see where the conversation was headed and shut the old man out long before his point was made. Silently the old man turned to his constant companion and said, “Lord, help me, give me the words.”
To buy a little time the old man looked up into Bobby’s eyes and asked, “How’s it going?”
“Okay, I guess.” Bobby replied.
“You don’t seem very happy. Is everything okay?”
“Ahh, you know, Mom and Dad are always on my case, I can’t do nothin’. I wanna hang with the guys and they just want me to stay home, mow the yard and clean my room. They’re always hassling me. I need some excitement, I wanna get out more. I wanna go do things and be where it’s at! You know!”
There was a short pause and the old man could see that Bobby was trying to decide if he should speak the next words. Finally Bobby said, ” I’ve been thinking ‘bout getting out on my own, you know, leavin’ home, movin’ out.”
“There’s the youth group at church, you could…”
“Nahhh!” Bobby cut the old man off in mid sentence, “They never do anything good, they just play stupid games or study the bible, never anything worth while, never anything that is any fun.”
The old man looked out of the window and there he saw a rose bush in bloom. He noted how some of the roses were mature flowers, while others were beginning to blossom and some were just a bud. “How beautiful!” thought the old man, … and as he gazed at the rose bush, a story unfolded within him.
“Did I ever tell you the story about the rose?” asked the old man.
Bobby, who had heard many of his grandfather’s stories, sucked noisily on his straw as he squinted one eye and glanced towards the ceiling, deep in thought. Finally his lips reluctantly released the straw as he replied,
“Nope, don’t remember a story ‘bout a rose.”
“Well, there was this beautiful rose bush, kind of like that one there,” the old man pointed to the rose bush just outside the window as be began to unwind his tale. Bobby glanced out the window at the rose bush as he took a long suck on his straw; he then turned his attention back to the old man. When the old man saw that he had Bobby’s attention he continued, “Instead of being outside of a fast food restaurant, this rose bush was in the garden of a home, very much like the one in front of my house. This one rose had just begun to bloom and was opening it’s petals for all the world to see. Ever since he was just a little bud the rose liked being on the bush with the other roses. The rose became accustomed to the gentle breezes that swayed it back and forth causing it to frolic and play with the other roses on the bush. Each morning the rose looked forward to the warm rays of the sun on its petals after the coolness of the night.
During the day the rose would raise its blossom toward the sky and watch the clouds as they sailed along and made themselves into different shapes.
People would walk by on the sidewalk, glance at the rose and make remarks like,
‘Oh, how pretty!’ or ‘What a beautiful flower!’
Each day the rose would blossom a little more and was well on its way to becoming a magnificent flower. The rose looked forward to the frequent visits of a bumble bee who would gently land upon its petals and poke around, looking for nectar, it tickled and made the rose very happy. Then one day the rose happened to look toward the house and through a window it saw another rose. This rose was standing majestically in a tall slender vase that sat in the middle of the dining room table. The rose watched as the family gathered around the table as a meal was served, there was talking and laughing and stories being told. ‘Oh! Wow!’ said the rose, ‘That’s where I want to be. If only I could be a rose in a vase on the dining room table, instead of having to be out here in the garden.’ After seeing that other rose in the house, standing so tall and majestic on the dining room table, that was all the rose could think about, it wanted to be in the center of all of that excitement, like that other rose. No longer did the rose become excited over the visits of the bumble bee, no longer did it think the warm rays of the sun felt good, no longer did it enjoy being swayed by the breeze, it quit frolicking with the other roses and stopped watching the clouds, ‘That’s boring!’ thought the rose.
Then one day the rose saw the owner of the house coming toward the rose bush with clippers in his hand. ‘Oh! This is my chance.’ thought the rose. The rose opened its petals as wide as it could and strained to stand tall so the owner would notice. Excitement surged through the rose as it saw that the owner drew near, then it felt the owner’s grasp and felt the clippers tighten against its stem … and then, “SNIP”. It was a little painful at first, but the new felt freedom quickly overcame the pain of being cut from the bush.
‘I’m free, I’m free!’ thought the rose.
The rose was taken into the house, placed into a vase, which was filled with water, and sure enough, its dream was fulfilled, the owner set the vase in the middle of the dining room table. The rose was so excited everything seemed so wonderful. The rose had achieved what it had desired for so long. The rose surveyed its new world; the vase was very pretty, although it was a bit confining and didn’t allow for much moving around. The room was small, dim, and somewhat plain, not at all like being outside, but the rose could see out of the window.
Of course the view was limited, the rose could not see the sky and it wondered what shapes the clouds were in. Suddenly the rose realized that it was hungry. While it was growing up the bush had liberally supplied all of the necessary nourishment that the rose had required, but now it no longer received that nourishment.
The rose had to suck hard at the water in the vase to draw just a little up through its stem. This was not at all what the rose was used to, this was difficult and it was tiring. It was hard work to draw the water up through its stem and it required much of the rose’s time just to get enough nourishment to sustain life.
The rose sighed and took a deep breath realizing that the air in the house was stale, and it was so hot in the house, there was no breeze what so ever.
The rose looked out of the window and saw the bush on which it had budded. The rose saw that outside the breeze was blowing and the other roses were swaying and frolicking together. ‘Oh! It would be so nice, just to feel a little breeze.’ thought the rose, ‘but then after all, wasn’t this where it wanted to be?
Wasn’t it better to be here in the house? Wasn’t it better to be here in the middle of all of the excitement? Wait a minute’, … the rose looked around, it was quiet in the house, no one was talking, no one was laughing no one was sitting at the table. Listening carefully the rose thought that it heard voices in another part of the house but was not sure. ‘Where is all of the excitement?’ thought the rose, ‘There isn’t any here that’s for sure.’
Glancing out the window the rose saw the bumblebee flitting among the other roses on the bush, it was sure the bumblebee was looking for him.
The rose waved its petals and stood as tall as it could, trying to attract the bumblebee, but the bumblebee didn’t notice. The rose suddenly felt very tired and noticed that it was difficult to hold up its petals and that its stem was beginning to get a little limp. The rose sucked hard at the water in the vase but it didn’t seem to help much. Darkness came quickly and the house grew very quiet. The rose was lonely and felt forsaken. Finally it fell asleep, hoping that things would look brighter on the next day.
The rose awoke early on the next morning and was anxious for the sun’s rays to warm it. There on the edge of the table was a shaft of sun light which moved slowly toward the rose. The rose prepared itself to receive the warming ray, but the ray stopped short just inches away. ‘What’s this?’, thought the rose. Then the rose noticed that the sun was blocked by the edge of the window and the ray could never reach where the rose sat in the vase on the dining room table.
The rose was very sad and hung its blossom, glancing down at the tabletop.
‘ What’s that?’ thought the rose. Looking closer the rose noticed that several of its petals had fallen out during the night and were lying on the table top near the bottom of the vase. ‘I can’t let this happen!’ thought the rose and it tried to lift its blossom, but it was just too weak. The rose drew hard on the water in the vase, but now found it was even more difficult to get nourishment than it had been on the previous day.
‘What’s happening to me?’ thought the rose.
‘My stem is so very limp and my petals are falling out. It’s so stuffy in this house, … if only I could get some fresh air.’
The day drug on slowly for the rose, on several occasions it tried to look outside but it was just too weak. It was unable to even turn its blossom towards the window and even if it had been able to face the window, it did not have the strength to raise up high enough to see outside.
By mid day its stem was drooped over the edge of the vase and the rose’s blossom was hanging so low it almost touched the tabletop. More of the rose’s petals had fallen out and lay on the table just beneath the rose. Just then the rose felt its stem being grasped by the owner’s hand.
It was lifted out of the vase and carried towards the back door. Hope sprang up in the rose as it saw that it was being taken outside. Once in the fresh air the rose felt a sudden exhilaration and it tried to look around to see where it was.
Then the rose felt itself falling, the wind rushed past, and the rose saw the sky rushing away as it fell. Then, “PLOP!”… Being outside in the open air had refreshed the rose, some of its strength had returned and it managed to lift its blossom to look around. There it lay, right on top of the compost heap, among the hedge clippings, potato peelings and rotting melon rind.
The sudden realization of what had happened to the rose was a terrible blow, from which it would not recover… Now, all hope was gone, the rose was so very very weak. Even though it was just past midday, darkness began to close around the rose. The rose managed to get one last glimpse of sunlight just before being completely covered over by grass clippings that were added to the heap.
Then, .. total darkness, … complete stillness, … and silence…………
The old man raised the styrofoam cup up and took the last sip of coffee as he slid out into the aisle and stood up. He started walking toward the door and looked back over his shoulder to where Bobby was still sitting in the booth,
“Are you coming?” he asked.
Bobby didn’t answer and sat motionless as he stared out of the window at the rose bush.
“Are you coming?” the old man asked again.
“Huh? … Oh! … Yeah, I’m coming.” Bobby said as he slid out into the aisle still staring at the rose bush.
Bobby was silent during their walk home. The old man ambled along with his hands in his pant’s pockets, softly humming ‘What a friend we have in Jesus’, and wondered if he had reached his grandson.
When they arrived at the house, Bobby went inside, still without saying a word. With all of the talk about roses, the old man thought that it would be nice if he would cut some roses and bring in a big bouquet for the dining room table. The old man went to the garage, got his clippers and walked back out to the front yard.
He stood in front of the rose bush and examined the roses, finally selecting one; he reached out and took it in his hand. Just as he was about to clip the rose, he felt a hand on his shoulder. The old man turned to see his grandson standing there with a look of concern on his face.
“Poppy,” there was a crack in Bobby’s voice, he cleared his throat and then quickly continued, “don’t you think that rose would be much happier if you left it right there on the bush?”
The old man stared into Bobby’s eyes and there he thought that he saw a tear beginning to form.
“I think you’re right.” said the old man as he reached up and patted the hand that was still on his shoulder, noting that although it was not as chubby as it used to be, it was still a very nice hand, … a very nice hand indeed.
Author – Mike Boudreaux firstname.lastname@example.org
“Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.” ~Proverbs 4:1
“You can always tell a real friend: When you’ve made a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.” ~Lawrence J. Peter
“You are the conductor of your own attitude! Nobody else can compose your thoughts for you.” ~ Lee J. Colan
…not only nobody can compose your thoughts – BUT nobody has the right to even try to compose or manipulate your thoughts. You are the conductor of your future (via your choices)!” ~ Terry Osborne