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.