by June Chapko
Roses have been a part of my life since childhood. I remember the delight on my mother’s face when she received even a single rose; one I’d carefully plucked from a wild bush on my way home from our little neighborhood library. She would smile, give me a hug and place the rose prominently on the window sill where the petals glistened softly. She also loved roses dad would surprise her with for their wedding anniversary. She kept them long after their beauty faded.
Dad had a curious love for roses. He sought unusual varieties, and mail order catalogs never disappointed him. He rarely had lasting success in growing roses, but it never stopped him from trying. He became fascinated with a variety he referred to as the black rose. I told him I thought there was no such rose; that it was just deep crimson. We debated about it many years before he died.
His love of roses was passed down to me and I was thrilled my husband loved them, too. I was overcome with joy when shortly after we met, he drove across town through a blinding thunderstorm to bring me a dozen beautiful, long-stemmed red roses.
After we married, each anniversary was an occasion to light up my face with renewed love and joy with roses. Neither of us was very successful in growing roses, but our efforts were planted in every yard of places we’ve lived. Through the years, my children grew faster than the rose bushes, and before I realized it, grandchildren began spouting up. One by one they entered my life, putting smiles on my face and joy in my heart. Watching them grow and flourish has been exciting, though not without some thorn pricks along the way.
I came out of a fractured family as my parents eventually divorced. I carried emotional wound into my adult life. I had never learned during my childhood, to know and trust God for real joy and eternal happiness. It was a challenge bringing my flawed and wounded soul to God in my mid-thirties, and trust Him to prune and shape me into the person He intended for me to become. Even though I’ve encountered thorns through my life, He forgave me of my past and welcomed me as His child. God continues to prune and shape me, as I learn to let Him control my life.
My eleven grandchildren today are planted across and out of the country, including Montana, California, Louisiana, north Texas and Saudi. Some of them are absent from my life right now due to estrangement or difficulty in communication. My love for each of them will never die. They are all part of me and everywhere I am they are in my heart. I’ve learned God’s love for me is eternal and will never end. No matter where I am at any given time, His love is with me. I am to love as He loves, unconditionally. I love each of my children and grandchildren no matter how far away they go or what they are doing; my love is always there.
Some years ago a rose was developed that was excellent for our Texas weather conditions. It would survive in heat and drought. This species was named, “Grandmother’s Yellow Rose.” My track record with rose bushes could certainly be improved with a variety of rose that didn’t require much help from me, to bloom. I found this new variety at my friend’s nursery, listened to planting instructions and was able to get it into the ground. My hope with buds that never opened, and roses defoliated with black spot fungus. I was told this rose would require no special treatment and would bloom without interference from me. I was to just let it do what God intends for roses to do…bloom!
While I waited for spring, I began a journey of prayer, praying in earnest for my eleven grandchildren. One by one, name by name, I lifted them up to God, asking Him to prune and shape them to become all He wanted them to be. It was a trust issue for me, in that I had to trust God heard my prayers and was working on those beautiful flowers. He certainly didn’t need my help, He is the Master Gardener. Even though I had scarce contact with my grands, I was praying and believing God for their daily care. I had enjoyed their early years when we lived close and things were good between all of us. But as their parents moved away due to jobs and military, the distance took its toll. Life happens and careless words can cause black spots in relationships. I continued to pray long and hard that God would heal and restore.
The first signs of spring began appearing as the trees showed hints of budding. South Central Texas recovers quickly from winter, so excitement about planting and gardening begins rapidly. One morning I looked our onto my patio where my Grandmother’s Yellow Rose bush grew nearby, and noticed a few buds beginning to form. My heart skipped a beat as hope rose from deep within. Would this rose bush really bloom the first spring?
I was hesitant to get too excited, but each morning I looked for progress. I had to go out of town for a week and although I couldn’t check the roses daily, I did pray God would watch over them and protect each precious bud. When I returned, my husband greeted me at the door. He took my hand and said, “I want to show you something.” He guided me to the sliding glass door and opened the blinds, exposing beautiful yellow blooms on the rose bush.
I was thrilled to see some in full bloom, while others were in various stages of becoming. I counted out loud, “One, two, three…ELEVEN! There were eleven blooming yellow roses…one representing each of the grandchildren! God was so gracious to me. Only He could produce the exact number of blooms to cover each of my precious grandchildren. My husband turned my attention the back of the rose bush and pointed. There, in the tiniest stage of budding, two little roses waited to unfold. I felt tears roll as I thanked God for adding these little buds to represent my two great-granddaughters. God didn’t forget about them, nor had I. His reminder to me is that He sees them all, cares for them and loves them all.
I love when God reads my heart before I ask for things. Every year since that Grandmother’s Yellow Rose bush was plunked down in the soil, it has bloomed thirteen roses all at one time. What a thrill for me to see them glistening in the sun, knowing God is working to restore relationships. Since the bush was planted I’ve learned to allow God to plant into my life what will make me bloom.
June’s curiosity with estate sales prompted her to create this estate sale of the century, a fictitious sale which changed her during the writing. An avid journal keeper and lover of estate sales, June enjoys helping others discover treasures in both. Journals speak about the past and how a life was lived while estate sales attempt to pass on the legacy of those who went before us through the things they accumulated.
Though June has written several Bible studies, many devotionals, and has been published in Mature Living, Quilt World and other publications, The Estate Sale is her first novel. She lives with her husband in San Antonio, Texas, and is a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and Christian Writers of Southeast San Antonio.