Rosalia, Rosie, Rose. Sister, Mom, Grandma.
These are the names we called her. These are what we knew her as.
The Rose is known as a universal symbol of Love. Some of the other qualities it is said to symbolize are: respect, grace, gratitude, purity, security, protection, maternal love, unity, and understanding. But for me, through Rose, it now represents: wisdom, a new view of all things, innovation or considering a better way, and celebration.
A few years ago, Rose, our sister Marian and I were talking about how we wanted to be remembered, and our passing commemorated. We agreed, at Rose’s prompting, that a wake or funeral should be a symbol and celebration of the life of the one now in a better place.
Rose Wise. Love is the leader in the symbols of Rose. Love and wisdom are her blessings, and her gift to us. When our brother, Bernie, died in 1974, Rose placed a blue carnation on his casket, as a symbol of the highest, spiritual love. Love transforms everything to its highest form, and even overcomes the finality of death.
A friend I work with knew Rose only through the art of her greeting cards. When I told her of my sister's passing, we talked of the meaning of love in this time. And as tears started forming in our eyes, she said, “For me sometimes love comes through tears.” Don't deny this gift in your memory of her.
The Final Gift
Death is our passing from one state to another. In Rose’s case it was from pain to peace because of her ordeal the past few months. But healing the wounds of loss takes time. One way to handle the pain of this healing is a final connection with her. You may have things you wish you could have told her, or a question to ask. You can still do that. Rose is with us now, and I’m sure she is enjoying your presence. (I’ve heard it said that the one who enjoys a memorial service most is the one who has passed—seeing everyone in this time of unity, sweet memory and love.
For me, I can imagine sitting with Rose in front of a fire, warming heart and soul. TV news or talk show is on to stimulate the mind. She is stringing beads or snapping beans for soup—always busy with some project to share. Then, speaking my thoughts or asking a question, I can hear her possible response:
- "That is so sweet of you." Or,
- "You’ll know what to do." Or maybe,
- "Just do your best. It’ll turn out all right."
We are all part of Rose’s journey through life. As we look back on that journey with her, each of us has our own impressions and memories. If these were all collected in a volume called Rose or Mom or Grandma, it would be just a small part of her. Yet it is natural for us to share these memories in gratitude for her gifts to us, and the loss we feel.
When I visited Rose in July, even as she was undergoing chemotherapy, she told me some of the gifts of reflection and resting in God's love. In that reflection and sharing, I learned how much family meant to her. Family is a lot like a garden—not always in straight, neat rows, but with a bounty of rich beauty, luxurious growth and dreams fulfilled. Family is the place where the highest love grows.
Rose told me little snippets of that love and her love for you. She told me of
-- Tom, who gave up so much for her children and grandchildren.
-- Charlton: soft spoken, competent, calming in tough situations
-- Jonathon: gentle, openhearted, loving
-- Carina: caring, sensitive, talented in so many areas, especially motherhood.
Your shared love is the legacy of Rose.
I’d like to invite any of you to share your stories and memories with us.
[Others share their memories and impressions.]
Below are other things I had prepared to say if it seemed right. I shared the first one.
--Last month Rose told me that the common saying, God is Love is not exactly accurate. Instead it is Love is God. If you love, if you have love, you are living the divine presence. Rose has always lived there, and by your presence, by your love and honor of her today, we know she continues to live in that highest place.
--Another thing I recalled this morning is a dream of last night. In it we were gathered in at a party or potluck. As the evening ended, Rose was slipping little gifts in our pockets or bags as we left. Later I took it out of my pocket and saw this little box that was more light than matter. But on it there was the word Joy.
--In earlier years when Rose was more able to get around, she loved to garden. A poem I wrote some time ago is of gardening and following your dreams, but I think it applies to Rose’s life as well.
What love is it that chooses heart’s direction?
Talent never learned this life
But lived like bees to honeysuckle’s center
To one an awkward duty
Another makes it dance.
Are we not followed on the road to choose
By choices other than our own?
Our map in math or science knows
Growing rose and radish
An easy work of art.
Start to feel connection with life and tools of craft
In school what luck would have the leaders
Follow heart and soul?
There is more than light and scent
To growing rose.