"My symbol of Roses" by Julia De Burgos
The path from where those open roses bloom Is mine, only mine, from their depths To the triumphant smile of their imagination.
My path to roses wasn’t always simple. At one time I could care less about the rose. I loved the exotic flowers--give me an orchid, a Bird of Paradise, an exotic lily. However, when I would visit my mother, I would bring her a rose. I knew they were her favorite flower. She would always say to me, “I know they are your favorite, too.” I would look at her annoyed. I would think how little does my mother know me and I would say, “No mom, roses are your favorite, not mine.” She would just laugh and ignore what I just said. She would carry on complimenting me on the roses I bought her and how beautiful they were.
Then something changed a couple of years ago. My daughter bought me a Diptique candle that was rose scented. It smelled so good I began to rethink the rose. Pretty soon I started to try to find the best rose perfume around. I began to grow roses in my garden. This past year, the rose took on even more significance when my mother was dying. I bought her my favorite rose perfume from Fragonard, a French perfume company, for her Christmas present not knowing how truly ill she was.
When I came to see her, I was shocked at her weakened condition. When she could not shower on her own I helped her and then sprayed her with Rose de Mai, a rose perfume from Fragonard. The expression on her face was pure rapture. For one moment my mother did not feel the pain of her cancer; for one moment she was transported to the south of France, away from all illness.
It was then that the rose became my favorite flower. At her funeral she had wanted a casket decorated with pink roses. The inside of the casket was white and stitched on the fabric was a beautiful single rose above her pillow. I made sure to buy her the most beautiful rose bouquet for her funeral. All around her were dozens of roses. My only physical piece of furniture I have from my mother is a beautiful little cabinet with hand painted roses, and a mirror with Tiffany stained glass roses on it.
The rose has new significance for me. As Valentines Day approaches, I see all the red and pink roses displayed in the stores, but what I see is my mother. She did know me better than I knew myself. I might have to agree with Shakespeare that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. My rose would be called Ana Maria.