“White snow sparkles like a million little suns.”

Snowflakes, still to this day, provoke memories that reach back and touch my childhood. Mother loved snow, she treasured it! She’d bundle me up until I looked like a small marshmallow and she would run to the front yard with me, smiling the whole way. She brought out a carrot and chocolate chips and some extra scarves and hats, and she told me to start forming a little snow ball while she gathered a few sticks. I gathered snow in my tiny hands. I would jump and let myself fall back in the billowing white around me, and my arms and legs would flutter back and forth in an attempt to leave a snow angel on the yard. But before long I would be staring, amazed, at the tall snowman Mother had formed out of my little snow ball. Together we laughed as we stuck the carrot and chocolate chips on the front to give the snowman a face, and the sticks on the side to give him arms. Then we tried all the scarves and hats on him until we found the perfect look. When our snow day was through we’d go back inside and Mother would wrap me in a blanket after removing my wet snow clothes. I waited by her side in the kitchen while she made each of us a cup of hot cocoa, with a mountain of white mini marshmallows on top of mine just like the mountains of white snow outside.

I remember thinking how snow was such a magical event. I would go to sleep in one type of world and wake up in an entirely different one. In middle school I was a very inquisitive student, and I would stand at my bus stop when it was snowing and stare up at the sky watching specks of white fly toward my face. I could do this for hours, just trying to figure out where the snowflakes were born. Where did they come from?

When it snows here at Granite Farms, it’s lovely. Pop always wore his sunglasses on our morning walks if there was snow on the ground because the reflection of the sun bouncing off of it made him squint. Snow is so bright and sparkly, so joyful. It’s especially lovely because the leaves fall off all the trees and leave only thin branches behind, and I can see for miles around me. I see miles and miles of beautiful white hills with glimmers of light dancing over them.

Being alone on a snowy white day makes me think. The snow is so calming to me. It falls so softly and it hushes nature, and everything around it becomes quiet. Sometimes I’ll take walks by myself on snowy days. I’ll think of Mother, and I’ll think of Pop. I’ll think of small, happy children drinking hot cocoa at their window while they look outside at their snowman.

Snow is like a clean sheet that just lets you reflect on anything you want to. I love to look closely at a patch of snow on the ground because when I do, I really can see it shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow. And then when I look up, everything looks pure white again. I think it’s this way for a reason, because I think that’s how life is. Life is one big palette and it may not appear so wonderful from a far glance, but you have to look closer. You have to see how life shimmers with all the people and all the places and all the things that happen. When you look closely you’ll see so many colors. You’ll see so much beauty that otherwise may have gone unnoticed. If you take the time, you’ll see so much more than what you may have thought was there. It’s magical.



“Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises.”

Alzheimer’s disease began weaving its ugly fingers through Pop’s mind when we were about seventy. There had been history of it in his family, so we were not terribly surprised. He still had his gentle, loving manner about him, but his memory began to grow fuzzy, and that was when we moved to Granite Farms Estates.

Granite Farms is the continuing-care retirement community where I live now. My, it is a very well-kept place. The buildings are furnished beautifully; everything is tidy and I’m particularly fond of the red and gold patterned carpet that runs throughout the dining area. But the scenery outside is even more breathtaking, that was the first thing Pop and I noticed when we arrived. There are fountains, and stone pathways that travel throughout the community. And the grass! The grass is spring green and fluffy, and Pop said, “Why, Ellie, I think we’ve found ourselves in Colorado.”

He smiled at me. We always wanted to see the grasslands along the Colorado mountainsides.

Morning walks around the community became a ritual of ours. Pop and I liked to get an early start on our days, so we would wake up and have breakfast together and then go out for our walk while there were still dew drops on the grass. Pop truly enjoyed our surroundings, he would remark that the grass at Granite Farms was like a blanket for the animals. We saw deer, squirrels, and sometimes groundhogs. He always brought his binoculars and his bird book with us, and we would find a bench along our path so we could sit and watch the birds as well. He would point them out to me as they soared past us.

Alzheimer’s is no sympathetic guest, and Pop’s mind soon began losing the battle. He started getting lost in our building, repeating the same questions to me, and misplacing things in odd places. He was confused a lot, his poor soul. When family came to visit he wouldn’t greet them by name, because I think he was struggling to figure out who they were. Then it became increasingly difficult for him to carry out his daily activities. At breakfast in the morning, pouring his Cheerios into a bowl with milk was challenging for him, and I would offer to help but he didn’t want me to. He didn’t want to give in to his disease. He ate the cereal from the box, dry, with a spoon.

The more serious and physical symptoms began to take effect, and Pop was moved to medical unit at Granite Farms. We couldn’t go on our walks anymore, so I opened the shade on the window in his room and I sat with him, and he looked out at the grass.

Psalm 23 reads, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. When the priest recited that, I thought of Pop lying on the green that surrounds the mountains in Colorado. I thought of him lying there, like he was lying on a blanket.

I believe Pop is at peace, in a place he always wanted to be. And I believe he’s smiling at me. He’s alright now because he is with the Lord. I’ll meet him there someday.



“A close relative to red, the energy of orange is gentler. Orange radiates warmth; it uplifts and gives confidence. Orange is the happiest color.”

There’s an orange keychain on the handbag I always used to carry when I was younger. It was given to me by my grandmother. I don’t carry handbags very often anymore because they’re so big, but the keychain remains hanging from the handle. It makes me smile; it’s an orange heart and inscribed in pretty curly letters is the phrase, I love you just the way you are. The handbag itself is a brown and white print with orange zippers and accents, so I was especially excited to attach my new keychain when she gave it to me because it matched perfectly! She probably knew this, she had that way about her.

I was incredibly fortunate to grow up with the grandmother that I did. She and Mother were very close, and so my grandmother was always around. Both of my grandparents were, and I felt so special having two people who cared for me so deeply. I called my grandmother “my beloved,” because she was my very best friend.

She was beautiful, with silver hair and sparkly brown eyes and a smile that was so lively. Anyone could tell this about her, because she was always smiling. Sometimes people are described as being “young at heart,” and my grandmother truly was. Aging had no effect on her soul. Around my grandmother, anyone would feel happy. You could talk to her for hours, about anything you wanted. If you said something in conversation that happened to be the lyrics to a song, she would start singing in her best impersonation of the artist. I loved going out with my grandmother, even just to the supermarket, because she had witty, sarcastic comments for everything surrounding her. On my birthday she would craft handmade cards for me with textured paper and stickers and sometimes old pictures, and always with a thoughtful message inside. She was such a unique woman, so pleasant and spirited.

The orange keychain she gave me also brings memories of the orange flowers on the white apron she wore when we’d bake together. My, I loved baking with my grandmother! We made berry scones and chocolate chip cookies and confetti cupcakes, and she knew all the tricks to make our treats the best. She had her own special recipe for little lemon cookies with powdered sugar on top. The insides would be soft and gooey but the sugar would harden and the tops cracked open a bit, and they were delightful. We baked a lot in the fall, and that was her favorite season because it wasn’t too hot and it wasn’t too cold. While our treats were in the oven we’d sit at her kitchen table and wait, and she’d look out the window at the sun and the orange leaves that had fallen by her trees and remark, “It’s a beauteous day outside!”

I love you just the way you are. That is what my keychain says and that is how my grandmother felt about me. She never let me forget that, and with her I’d often get a warm feeling and think to myself, “I am loved.” It’s a wonderful thing to be loved, and as wonderful as my grandmother was I sincerely hope she knew that she was just the same. She was loved by a little girl who called her “beloved” and who always strived to be as optimistic and radiant as she was. As I found my path in life, I naturally grew a little further from my grandmother. I couldn’t spend entire weekends baking with her, but she always reminded me she was so proud of me for the things I was doing.

To my grandmother,  I love you just the way you are.



“Black; darkness. It’s the absence of light. You cannot see darkness. It cannot exist with light. It cannot be explained. Darkness only comes when everything else has gone. Darkness is nothing… then darkness is everything.”

It was a concept that always intrigued me. At Lock Haven Catholic Middle School we had art courses that we took, painting and such, and one of my teachers was discussing colors and how you blend them together to paint other colors. Red and yellow combine to make orange, and so forth. My teacher set up her canvas at the front of the classroom. It was just a blank white sheet and told us that’s where you begin, with white; the absence of color. She swirled colors together in circles all over the canvas, demonstrating how to blend them. Then in the center, she blended together all the colors she had and that circle got darker and darker until it was black. Black, she said, was the combination of all the colors.

But what I find interesting is that in the natural world, as I learned later on in my studies, it’s the opposite. The white light that we see is actually all of the colors of light combined in the visible spectrum at equal intensity. And darkness is the total absence of light, or the total absence of all color, appearing black to our eyes. These concepts fascinate me. I’ve always been a very pensive person, and oftentimes I’d find myself absorbed in these simple facts, contemplating how they fit together.

Depression is associated with black. When Father passed away, Mother became very depressed as my parents were always close to one another and she’d lost her greatest friend. She was sad and gloomy, and she told me, “My world just looks dark, Ellie. It’s like everything is hiding under a black shadow. I miss him, dearly.”

I held Mother that day, and we cried together. When I was alone later, I remember thinking again to the concepts of black and white, of darkness and light. People who are unhappy identify with darkness, but what does that mean? Maybe they see darkness because they see no light, no optimism or hope. Or perhaps they see darkness because they are seeing black. They could be seeing all the colors and all the things around them swirling and blending together and they don’t know what to make of it.

In Mother’s case, I thought that both ideas could be true. She saw no hope because Father had moved on to Heaven and he certainly wasn’t coming back. She understood that it was his time to be with the Good Lord above us, we both did. We did not resent the Lord for taking Father. But once people are in Heaven, they cannot come back and we won’t see them again until we meet them there. But I also thought, Mother may be seeing that black shadow as all her memories with Father all came together. She said everything was hiding under it, and perhaps that was because they shared such a lengthy past together and now in the present, without him, she didn’t quite know how to move on yet.

I still don’t have the answers. I don’t believe any of us do. I’m not sure if other people think about things this way; if people wonder like this. But I always have.


Brown Shoes“In those brown shoes you are never ugly. The beauty is inside you, don’t let them bring you down.”

As a young child, nothing matters. Not color, not material, not boy or girl, not wealth. Children are kind and amiable, and everyone has a friend in one another.

When you get a little older though, many of the friends you grew up with become judges. Around the time I started at Lock Haven Catholic Middle School, seating on the school bus became assigned, though our driver never put name tags up. The tables in the lunchroom were divided, and recess ceased to be one collective game of tag.

We were not rich, and Mother always reminded me the stark difference between “need” and “want”. I didn’t come with new school supplies each year because Mother said if there was nothing wrong with the ones from my previous year, there would be no reason to purchase new ones. Many of the girls in my classes would get their hair cut at salons, where they styled it with shiny curls and bows that they wore to school the next day, and everyone would ask to touch and feel how soft it was. Mother cut my hair, because she said salons charged too much and a young girl of my age didn’t need special hair treatments. I wore my hair shoulder-length with straight bangs above my eyebrows that she cut. Sometimes I would clip the top half up in a pin, but I was never very good at it and Mother wasn’t either, and so pieces of my hair would fall forward.

We wore uniforms to school, but we were allowed to wear shoes of our choosing and when I started middle school Mother said she would buy me one new pair as a treat. My, I was excited! Most of the girls got new school shoes each year, and now I would be just like them.

I had hoped to go to the shoe store in the shopping mall, the one with all the sparkly high heels in the window, but Mother said we’d get a fine pair from the shop in town. We settled on a set of brown flats, made of glossy leather the color of the wooden table in our kitchen, with matching brown laces tied into a bow at the front. As soon as we got home I begged Mother to let me put them on, and she said I could wear them until it was time to wash up for supper. I danced around the kitchen while she cooked and she told me I looked like a ballerina, and I looked down at the bows and smiled because they were tied so perfectly.

On the first day of middle school I got on the bus feeling pretty, and very anxious to get to my first class so everyone could see my new shoes. When I got to my seat, I looked around and saw that all the other girls were wearing new shoes too, but all of theirs were a lustrous, vinyl black. That was the new style, I had seen them in the window of the shoe store in the mall by the heels. Some had polished silver buckles on the top, and some even had glitter where the toes were. I shifted my feet further under my desk and while a group of girls behind me giggled about how they matched, my elation about my new shoes quickly faded.

I heard one of the girls remark, in a whisper, that my shoes looked like the ones her mother wore. I remembered the week before when she had asked me at recess why my bangs were cut so crooked, and I felt very timid.

When we were dismissed for lunch, my teacher asked me to stay behind for a bit. She was a teacher of mine at Lock Haven Catholic Elementary and she had just moved up to the middle school when my class did. She told me she noticed that I’d gotten new shoes and she liked them very much, but she also noticed that I looked unhappy. I told her I was very excited about getting new shoes, but Mother hadn’t wanted to spend lots of money on the vinyl ones like my classmates’ mothers had, and now they thought I was ugly and I didn’t fit in with them.

What my teacher told me on that first day of middle school was something I carried with me for the remainder of my life, and still to this day. She told me about confidence, which she said was the “ability to feel beautiful without needing someone to tell you that you are.” I beamed at her; I liked the sound of that, confidence. Self confidence, she said, goes with every outfit. She said it was just like my new shoes! She reminded me again how splendid she thought they were and I asked her why she thought that, because they didn’t look like the other girls’ shoes.

Then my teacher told me the most important thing about confidence – that the moment you start comparing yourself to others is the moment you lose it.

I liked my new shoes, and as I danced out the door to the lunchroom just like I had in the kitchen when I first put them on, I realized that was all that mattered. I’ve lived a modest life, and I haven’t always had the shiniest things. But “things” are on the outside, and the secret is that what’s on the inside, my self-confidence, is as radiant as it can be.



“The sea a dark cavernous blue… When you’re between any sort of devil and the deep blue sea, the deep blue sea sometimes looks very inviting.”

I think we all have moments or experiences that change us. Some people have many of these and some may only have one or two; we can change frequently throughout our lives I believe. I’m talking about significant changes, when something happens to you and afterwards, you won’t view the world with the same lens anymore. You cannot because you aren’t the same anymore, you have become different. I think God makes these things happen because life goes so quickly that you often don’t notice your lens becoming foggy, and so He has to tell you.

My first big change happened when I was fairly young, during the spring of my final year in high school. People often begin stories with, It was just like any other day… and it really was. Mother had sent me to the store to pick up a few groceries for supper that evening. Just like her I always took the back roads to avoid the traffic in town on weekends. Some of the kids in my classes took the back roads because there was more open space to drive recklessly, and so I always kept look-out for that.

I was on my way back home and I remember being happy because the preceding winter season had been a harsh one and I was glad to finally see sunlight and flowers growing. The road I was on passes over a tiny creek that runs through the woods behind the old golf course, and it narrowed into a small bridge that only one car could drive on at a time. I went over the bridge, and then I turned the wheel to move back over to the right side of the road but this particular road was poorly paved and there was a shallow ditch beside it right when you come off the bridge. My wheel got stuck in the ditch, and everything after that was a blur.

Terrified, I yanked the steering wheel the opposite way to come out of the ditch but it only put the car into a hydroplaning motion. My wheels spun and suddenly I was staring at the clouds as I had spun off the road and onto the mounds of dirt on the old golf course. I went up over the first hill, airborne, and then crashed down onto the hard earth beneath me, and I did this three more times with no control. As the car lost momentum and I came down the last time, it landed on the left side and rolled over, throwing me back into the street and stopping when it collided with a telephone pole on the opposite side.

I was dead, I was sure of that. From the first time I went into the air and was staring up at heaven with tears rolling out of my eyes, I knew that’s where I was headed. I may have been screaming for help or I may have been still, petrified. But I knew I wouldn’t come out of this alive. I was alone, and I remember my surroundings going dark; not black, but an obscure hazy blue that made it seem that I was stranded out in the ocean. There was no horizon in sight, there was no hope, there was nothing. I was helpless, listless, sinking to the bottom. And I let go.

I woke up to find that it hadn’t been my time yet; I survived and that was a miracle, the doctor told me. Mother held me tight and prayed, although for those first few minutes when I awoke I still felt like I was alone, with nothing but ocean around me. But I didn’t sink this time. I didn’t want to, and I saw clearly then, just as He intended, that I would have to be more careful to ensure that. So that was my change, my first big one.

Since then I’ve always been more cautionary. People said, “what a terrible thing to have happened!” but the way I see it, sometimes those terrible things happen so that worse things don’t. I could have been gone, could have sunk to the bottom. But that experience made it so that I’m much more careful that that does not happen. Yes, that was a terrible way to learn that, but I suppose it was part of the plan all along.




“Friends are a warm yellow sunshine in life.”

Oh how a shining yellow sun in the sky reminds me of my dearest friends! Evelyn and Anne, I remember our days together like they were yesterday.

We were lucky. All three of us attended Lock Haven Catholic Elementary and our neighborhoods were lined up right next to each other along the street; one, two, three just like that. We always met at my house because my neighborhood was in the middle. When summertime came and we had a break from our studies, we made lists of all the things we would do together and a recurring item was our lemonade stand.

We gathered around the kitchen table and Mother would help us make up a pitcher of lemonade, and we put some real lemons in because Mother said they would make it look more fresh. Then we would draw up a sign with colored markers and we always used the name “Evvy and Ellie and Annie’s Lovely Lemonade,” even though no one really called Anne by “Annie” but it sounded better with mine and Evvy’s nicknames. Mother would help us unfold a card table at the bottom of our driveway and we would each carry out a lawn chair from the garage and sit at our stand. Evvy always taped the sign to the front of our table while I set up some paper cups next to the lemonade pitcher. One time Anne wanted to hang our sign up but she was having trouble with the tape and ended up taping it upside down. The three of us laughed so hard that we started getting hot because the summer sun was already so bright on our faces.

Anne even had little beads of sweat gathering on her forehead, and she said, “Hey let’s each just have a cup of lemonade for free, it’s okay because we made it.”

She reached for the cups but Evvy playfully swatted her hand away, saying, “No Anne! If we drink the lemonade then there won’t be enough for our customers!”

“Plus we won’t make any money!” I added.

Thinking back now, our days at our lemonade stand say a lot about each of the three of us. Anne was always the ambitious one, the one who came up with the best ideas but sometimes didn’t think things through; Evvy was reserved and kind-hearted, the thoughtful one who wanted things to be fair for everybody; and I, the planner, I did well with my studies and was always trying to figure out how to learn more.

We would bring out coloring books and crayons so we had something to do to pass the time, and we’d talk about the cutest boys in our classes and giggle nervous giggles, like they could hear us. But oftentimes the minutes that went by while we waited for customers felt hours under the summer sun, and we’d retreat to our own activities. I read books, I would carry them outside by the pile. Anne began collecting small pebbles that she found where the driveway met the sidewalk and she’d arrange them into shapes on the table. Evvy just sat patiently, looking up at the clouds or glancing down the street to see if anyone was coming.

Me and Evvy and Anne, we were something special. When we got older we would meet for lunch at a café that had outdoor seating, and if the weather was nice we would sit outside and each of us would order a lemonade to drink. The warmth of the sun was pale in comparison to the warmth of being with my two most wonderful friends. I would tell them all the details about my new job, and Anne would absentmindedly pick her straw wrapper into tiny pieces and arrange them into shapes, and Evvy would smile often and glance up at the clouds. No matter where we were in our lives, we were three best friends and that was unwavering.


Purple Blanket

“Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.”

I got out a box of old photographs to sift through the other day. I have plenty of photos in frames on all of my tables, but still I keep others packed away simply because I don’t have enough frames. Someday I will put all of my unframed photos into books maybe, so they’re more organized.

But the other day I just wanted to stroll down memory lane, so I got my boxes out. They’re small cardboard shoe boxes, almost as tattered and worn as the photographs themselves since I’ve brought them with me anytime I’ve moved into a new place. There are about five or six I would say. On the top of the pile in one of the boxes is one of my favorite photographs to look at because it makes me feel so cozy. Mother and Father had just recently brought me home from the hospital and Mother is lying on the living room carpet with me beside her. I’m bundled in a purple knit blanket like a small bug in a cocoon. My stumpy little arms are splayed out to either side, dressed in a onesie that was purple as well. But the onesie was more of a lavender color, the blanket is a deeper, richer purple that stands out in the photograph even though it’s weathered and crease marks run over it. I love this picture, because I look so new, and Mother looks so happy smiling at the camera.

It’s funny to me, because I know this is a picture of me since Mother is beside me, but if I just look at the small baby in the purple blanket, it looks nothing like me. People always say how much their baby pictures resemble them but I don’t think it’s true, I think you could give someone any old photograph of a baby and tell them it’s you and they might believe it! There’s an older woman living down the hall from me and sometimes I’ll see her sitting in the recreation room, with her curly snow white hair and her fair skin. She has a picture in her clutch, and it’s evident that she’s cut it from a magazine of some sort, of a little dark baby dressed as the sun, and she tells everyone that’s how she got her nickname, “Sunny,” because that’s her! I know it’s not.

Anyways, the photograph of that tiny little thing wrapped in a purple knit blanket always makes me think about how life is a circle. One day I was there, I was that new baby. Now, I’m an elderly woman with new baby grandkids of my own. New people and old people, we travel in a circle because we end up in the same place after all, don’t we? Babies, they’re wrapped up in blankets and they lie on the floor, just being there. And some of the older people living in this building, they too are wrapped in blankets, just sitting on the couches by the TVs or in the recreational room, just being there. I’m not wrapped back up yet, I haven’t reached the end of my circle. But I will, because we all do.

When I look at my favorite photograph of myself in my purple blanket, it makes me glad about all the things I’ve gotten to do before I find myself wrapped up in a blanket again. You have to be adventurous and lively, like I was starting to with my arms poking out of my blanket! Young people sometimes don’t realize that. They would if they saw some of the people living here, their arms unable to leave their blankets. I just hope that they’ve had some fun.


Gray Hair

“Gray hair is a crown of splendor, it is attained by a righteous life.”

Mother noticed it first, while we were preparing a glazed ham for Christmas dinner. We always brushed our ham in a sweet combination of brown sugar, mustard, and pineapple juice, it was a recipe passed down from my great grandmother. I was mixing the glaze at the counter beneath the kitchen window while Mother was setting the oven temperature, and she turned around and let out a snicker. How funny it was that my own gray-haired Mother spied my first gray hair! It was a two sided token I suppose, some women aren’t fortunate enough to still have a mother of their own when they become one. But my cheeks blushed when she noticed it and I felt silly because usually a mother is gone before a gray hair appears.

“Look who’s got themselves a platinum highlight! Not to worry, dear, it’s a small price to pay for all this wisdom,” Mother told me, with a witty smile.

All my life I’d been told my facial features mirrored hers. I loved when I heard that, Mother was a beautiful woman. People would jokingly call us sisters. I thought, pretty soon we’ll look like twins once the rest of my highlights come in! I pursed one side of my lips into a smile, and I told her I thought her hairdresser overdid her highlights a bit.

It wasn’t too long before my own platinum streaks filled out into a full head of silver. I think I was forty two standing in that kitchen, and just nearing fifty when I could be looked upon and termed “elderly.” I come from a family of dark complexions, so I’ve aged into hair of slate rather than white. It’s true what they say, about the trepidations you feel when you get older. I thought, will I become a victim of crime? Will the kids cast me away to a nursing home at the first forgotten memory? A friend of mine said that for the women in her family, “gray hair and senility are a combo package.” I worried myself sick sometimes.

But I also read that younger people fear old age more than people who are actually there, and that manifested to be a truth. Here I am now, in my gray and in my glory! I’ve learned to hope while some despair. I don’t mean false hope, hoping for things unrealistic. But I mean a sense of hope, a sense of faith. A few of my friends haven’t done so well. I only have a few friends now, I’ve become more selective as my years descend through the center of the hourglass.

“You’ll learn to transcend life’s experiences,” Mother said, a calm sense of certainty in her frail voice. Her body weakened as she grew older and grayer but her spirit never wavered. I’d like to think that’s another one of her traits I’ve been gifted with. She gave me the ability, wrapped in a silver bow, to see time as an empty framework behind one’s own story. My life has been a beautiful story indeed. So time is not a factor. It’s like gray matter in the background, it doesn’t matter much.


red  roses“Roses are red…”

Oh dear, were they red. If I’m not mistaken, I hadn’t seen a live red flower with my own two eyes before, aside from the poinsettias that Mother would decorate our home with around Christmas time. I hadn’t had a boyfriend before either, so there were many firsts for me on that day. Well, Pop didn’t ask me to be his girlfriend that day precisely but in any manner we were just about together at that point. That was the beginning of something beautiful that we would share, almost as beautiful as those roses.

They stood erect in his hand; a glorious and brilliant bunch of crimson atop long green stalks. It was a small bundle of five or six perhaps. I would have been happy with one. He handed them to me and I felt like a princess, cradling a ruby red crown. Pop had a way of making me feel like that, even without red roses.

I remember he took me out George’s Diner and we sat at one of the tables by the window, and we played that game where one of us would pick a person walking by and the other one had to guess what they were thinking at that moment, where they were coming from. That was one of our favorite games to play, even later when we would sit on the park benches while the grandchildren went down the slides. Pop and me, we simply enjoyed each other’s company. Sometimes we would play our game and sometimes we would talk about the places we wanted to go, the things we wanted to see. But other times we would sit together in silence, and it wasn’t a stiff silence. It was a comfortable calmness that made my heart smile, which made me smile. I would glance up sometimes and see Pop smiling too, and with a red tint to his cheeks.

It was my birthday one year, and Pop took me on a ferry boat ride at the harbor. The ferry was golden and red, and it matched the scarlet colored lace dress I wore. There were those roses again, he handed them to me when we’d reached the dock and were waiting to board for our ride. I accepted them along with a kiss on my cheek. I marveled at how perfect they were, and when the ferry came near I put my ruby red crown on my head and danced aboard. My birthday was always my favorite day and Pop knew that. He would do everything he could to make me feel special. It was something he always did, and it always worked.

Whenever I see a red rose, I can see Pop. I can see his wavy hair that was always combed forward, growing towards the right side of his forehead in the front. I can see his tender hazel eyes, creasing in the outer corners when his mouth curved upwards with laughter. I can feel his strong fingers woven between mine when we would walk together; to George’s Diner, along the trail at the park, up the dock at the harbor. I’d like to think that each red rose I come across is another addition to my bouquet from Pop, growing evermore.