There was a light rapping on my door. I climbed out of bed and opened it to see Grampy Gay standing in the coveralls he wore while he was tending his garden. "It's rose inspection day," he told me.
I never knew my Great Grampy when I walked the mortal world. He passed long before I was born. Even when I passed over, I did not meet him. It wasn't until Daddy's cousin gave him a shoot from Grampy's rose bush that I met him when he asked me to accompany him to my parent's house to check on the bush.
Grampy was sent to France in World War I. He was in the trenches, often exposed to the mustard gas that would take him from the mortal world too soon. When the gas masks were removed and the bullets not firing, Grampy told his mates that, if he got home, he would spend his days tending to his rose bushes, as far from war as possible.
When he got home, he bought a rose bush and kept it alive during the Depression. When he passed, his son and daughter, when they had their places, took a shoot of the rose bush and planted it, keeping it alive. Grampy's offspring also had a lone boy and girl, and when they grew up, they got a shoot, and now the rose bush is a hundred years old and thriving at its new homes.
Grampy checks on each off-shoot during the year, usually with an angel dog, and I am proud I am one of the chosen ones.
My parents have done well with their roses. Dozens have bloomed in the last week. Grampy and I landed in my parent's slim backyard, and he checked the bush while I took notes. He mentioned some down parts that needed to be cut back and where they needed to be trimmed.
He then stopped, took a deep sniff, stood back, and said, "Your parents are doing a fine job," then we walked into the bush like Shoeless Joe disappearing into the cornfield.
I know Grapmy is proud that his rose bushes still thrivel. There is something of him living in a world his soul left long ago.
It is the finest tribute to a loved one I can think of.
We all want to leave something living behind