Mr. Lincoln’s Rose
(A true story from Meant To Be by Margaret Williams)
I had forty-nine wonderful years with my husband, Daniel. We met when we were twenty-one year old college students. I knew Daniel was my life partner after just a few dates. We were engaged and married within the year.
We had our ups and downs, but our commitment to being together grew steadily. We had four children within four years, a boy, twin girls, and another boy. You can just imagine how busy we were! Daniel was a wonderful father, and eventually grandfather. Everything he did he seemed to do very well, but he especially excelled at being the best husband and friend I could ever imagine.
Daniel retired from teaching five years after our last child left home. What followed were ten wonderful years of spending every day together. We liked to hike and canoe, but our favorite activity was gardening. We loved creating beautiful gardens and felt closest to God when we were out among the flowers, vegetables, and roses.
We grew a little of everything, but our favorite was roses. We both loved to fuss over the rose bushes as if they were fine ladies and gentlemen needing to be pampered. We put the best organic fertilizers around the stems and rejoiced with each bloom. We called them all by name and were very fond of each one. I know this must sound silly, but we had a relationship with each bush.
Though we loved them all, our favorite rose bush was our Mr. Lincoln. Mr. Lincoln produced the most fragrant red blooms imaginable. It was always cause for celebration when Mr. Lincoln produced his first rose of the season. We would cut it and ceremoniously carry it into the house to be put in a place of honor. For days we would ooh and ahh over the rose as it filled our home with fragrance. Mr. Lincoln’s last bloom usually came around the end of October. The other bushes had all stopped producing by then, so his bloom was cause for much nostalgia. We’d cut the rose and bring it to our table and enjoy it even while the petals fell. Then we knew we’d have to wait until April for another.
The last ten years we had together were very beautiful. We greatly enjoyed each other’s company. When the winter rains and cold would keep us inside, Daniel would read to me. We didn’t like watching TV or movies and preferred the quiet of a comfortable corner where Daniel would read. Sometimes he read to me from gardening books; sometimes he’d pick a biography of a great person, and sometimes we would get engrossed in a mystery. It didn’t matter what he read, I just loved sitting there and listening to his soothing and compassionate voice.
Daniel complained of some pains in his chest, but we didn’t think much of them. One evening towards the end of October, he had a massive heart attack and died before the paramedics could come to our remote country house. I didn’t even get a chance to say good-by.
The next morning I walked out in the garden. Mr. Lincoln had produced his last rose of the season that morning. “This is for Daniel,” I thought. I picked the rose and brought it into the house, placing it by my favorite picture of my beloved.
Daniel was my mate for life. His absence was a great loss to me. We were always side by side in every aspect of life. So, in the time after his passing, I felt totally alone. My children and grandchildren were very supportive and all wanted me to stay at their houses so I wouldn’t feel so alone. I preferred to be alone in my home. It was here I could better remember my husband.
The winter was long and hard that year. Nights would find me sitting in Daniel’s chair, reading to myself. The sadness and grief of my loss grew stronger and stronger, like a choking weed in our beloved garden. “If only I knew that Daniel was close to me now,” I sadly thought, “Then I would be able to bear the pain and loneliness.”
Finally one February night, I cried out asking for assurance that Daniel was close. My heart was breaking from my loss. I wiped my tears and sat in Daniel’s chair, remembering every special quality about him. Suddenly I began to smell the very faint fragrance of a Mr. Lincoln rose.
“That’s odd,” I thought, “I must be imagining this.”
I got up and walked around our house. It was cold and rainy outside and there were no flowers anywhere in the house. I returned to Daniel’s chair and the scent grew stronger, making it clear that this was definitely not my imagination. I felt myself surrounded by the fragrance of Mr. Lincoln’s finest roses.
Then I knew without a doubt, this was Daniel’s way of letting me know that he was still close to me. Of course, I smiled to myself, what a perfectly logical way for Daniel to let his presence be known to me. It was, after all, our favorite scent. My beloved husband and dearest friend had never left me. He is by my side, loving me still.
The amazing thing is that the scent of Mr. Lincoln’s roses stayed in our home for a full week. My children all came and smelled for themselves and received a reassurance of their dad’s presence. After our last child had come and smelled the fragrance, the scent gradually faded as mysteriously as it had come.