I Didnae Bring a Rose

I didnae bring a rose. I wasn’t expecting to find you and so came empty-handed. I’d have left it on your stone. But maybe lilies of the valley tied in twine by my own hand would have been a better choice anyway. The tiny lilies were Mom’s favorite; maybe they were yours, too. Did you know about her? Did your wee Walter ever write you from America?

I didnae bring a rose but next time I’ll bring the lilies. We’ll sit and talk about the good times first. Your eyes will twinkle and tear when you laugh infectiously over an old forgotten story. I bet Mom got that laugh and joy from you. 

You’ll get up and put on another kettle as our words turn serious. I’ll reach my hand across the table, “I’m so glad I found you! What was it really like?”

Being “in service” was grueling work in itself. I imagine you’ll tell me how the long hours and shame of your birth led you to collapse when the day finally ended. Did you find any solace in those quiet hours as you drifted to sleep? I hope you didn’t let the attitudes of others make you look down on yourself.

I like to imagine that wee Walter— my grandfather — brought you joy. I hope his father was a wanted love and not just further shame. You’ll come close to telling me the story but you’ll change the subject. I didnae bring a rose, but whenever you’re ready I’ll bring lilies and listen. 

When you ask me about your grand bairn, my mom, I’ll tell you what an amazing woman she was! Not only a wonderful mother, she had a passion for those who were shamed and dismissed by our world. 

Even though she never knew you, I know she missed you. Her life started out hard. Your Walter turned to drink and ran off leaving Mom to nurse his dwindling wife. She died around the time Mom was coming of age. If not for the vicar and his wife, her life might’ve gone the way of heartache. I pray your vicar and his wife were kind to you, seeing God in your eyes, and at least offering grace in private. 

As the sun rises, I’ll have to say goodbye with so many questions yet unanswered. Thank you for reaching out to me, great grandmamó. I know it was you who lured me to the kirkyard. I wasn’t expecting to find you.

I didnae bring a rose. Next time I’ll bring lilies of the valley fresh from my garden. If I’m delayed I’ll press them in my Bible and bring them when the trees turn yellow.

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