Roses in November

I love November. I love the entire fall season, with the weather changing, the leaves turning, the incredible bright blue skies of October. But I have always loved November, and I especially love Thanksgiving.

I grew up in Western Pennsylvania where the winters are brutal, and can sometimes start as early as October. But, 8 years ago, the weather was a completely different story. I ought to know, because I was there.

Both my parents were ill with leukemia. I know. What are the chances? My 2 older sisters and I spent 2010 taking turns “visiting” them for a week to 10 days at a time. They would never accept help if it was offered and would NEVER ask for it, but they were happy to have us “visit.” If we just happened to take them to their treatments, the hospital, the doctors appointments, etc., that was just a pleasant coincidence. (Sigh).

My mom and dad were playing a bizarre game of End-Stage Leukemia poker during that year. You know–I’ll match you an infection and raise you a reaction. Okay, I’ll match that reaction and raise you and ER visit. On and on it went. You get the picture.

In early October, I came home for a “visit.” My dad came out of the house to greet me and to show me my mother’s rose bush. He was so excited, because the bush had started blooming again. In October! My dad was delighted, and told me that my mom was as well. I looked and sure enough, there were a few buds beginning to open. I was thrilled. And then it hit me.

Somewhere deep inside of me, I realized the truth, and what the roses represented. This was it. The end had come. For both of them. We were in the final stretch. Fighting back tears so my father wouldn’t see (thank God for those Maui Jim sunglasses), and keeping my voice neutral, I ooh’d and ahh’d over the roses. But, in reality felt like I was falling off a cliff.

The incredible weather held up all during October and through the first week of November, and her roses bloomed the entire time. She died on November 8th. Her roses bloomed until the snow came and gently covered them, 19 days later, the day my father died. It was 2  days after Thanksgiving.

You might think that I get sad or depressed during November and around Thanksgiving. Nah, I don’t. My parents wouldn’t want that. Besides, I have a lot to be grateful for, and I don’t want to be sad. I’m especially glad that my mom got one last chance to see her roses, which she loved. And grateful that my dad got to see how happy it made her. And I’m really glad that they are together forever, where every day is a day of wine. And roses.