The Resilient Spirit

While transplanting a rosebush last month, images of resilience flickered across my thoughts like scenes in an old home movie.

It started with the rosebush, which I adopted from a friend a little over a year ago. A rich pink variety, it once adorned the patio of the home she shared with her mother. After her mother passed away, she relocated to be close to other family and the rose couldn’t go.

Now, my friend would be the first to acknowledge that the rose wasn’t in great shape. It was little more than a stump with a few sprigs of green and was covered in aphids. I understood. When you uproot your life, plant care tends to go to the bottom of the priority list. As my husband and I loaded the pot into our Jeep, I reassured her that the bush would be fine. Secretly, I wasn’t so sure.

Connie's RoseDetermined to give it my best shot, I babied the rose every day for weeks. Pretty soon I noticed that the aphids were gone and new growth was visible on the stump. Pretty soon after that, a few buds burst open in pink glory as if to say, “I’m still here!” Today, in its permanent spot in our backyard garden, it’s the most prolific bush in this year’s late summer blooming season.

I suppose this shouldn’t surprise me. Any good rose authority will tell you that they are incredibly hardy and able to regenerate from nearly every adversity Mother Nature or humans can throw at them. Nevertheless, I find the resurrection of my friend’s rose entirely amazing.

On transplant day, as I swirled native and enriched soil around the bush, I thought of the storms I’ve personally weathered – financial ruin, a broken heart, the loss of loved ones, breast cancer. However, my trials pale in comparison to the two women who most shaped my life.

My mother lost her partner and provider in 1970 when my father suffered a permanently debilitating mental breakdown. Although devastated, she managed to find a job, sell our house, and move us into a by-the-month motel until she could rent something more suitable. Over the ensuing years, she advanced at work, bought another house, and enjoyed retirement at the Oregon coast for 14 years before spending her last 12 with me in Nevada.

My mother-in-law lost her 13-year-old daughter in 1971. Little Marsha was severely disabled from Rett’s Syndrome, a disorder that was completely unknown when it suddenly struck her in the late 1950s and wasn’t widely recognized until many years after her equally sudden death. My mother-in-law somehow carried on without ever knowing what exactly had taken her child. She went back to college for a master’s degree, became a spiritual counselor, and helped a number of hurting souls before she passed in 1988.

My friend’s rose is a beautiful reminder of how we all have the capacity to bounce back from the worst of circumstances. What is your favorite story of resilience?

4 thoughts on “The Resilient Spirit

    1. Oh, I didn’t mean to make you cry! I want you to know how much I love your rose. It is one of about four in my garden that hold special meaning. Every time I look at it, I think of you and your mother — two very special ladies.


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