One of my mom’s treasures was a “Forever Rose.” It was a real rose encased in a fluid-filled globe which sat on a gilded metal base which in turn sat on the coffee table in the living room of our little farm house near Clyde, Texas.
While “helping” my mother clean house, I somehow dropped and shattered the globe, spilling the water and the rose all over the coffee table and the living room floor.
My mother cried. I felt horrible. In an instant I had destroyed the thing that my mother obviously loved so very much.
I was eight years old.
The “Forever Rose” was gone. In its place was a thorn of guilt that constantly pricked at my heart; even into adult-hood.
Many, many years later while helping my sister-in-law move, I discovered a “Forever Rose” in a box in their garage. The rose had deteriorated so badly that it was nothing more than black specks floating in murky water. So much for “Forever.”
The globe was intact and still sat on a base that was tarnished and rusted. Looking at the forgotten, disused, decayed object in my hands, I flashed back to that day when I had destroyed my mother’s precious decoration. Guilt, as old and blackened as the rose in my hands, resurfaced.
I asked if I could have the rose, and with one look at the horrid thing I was holding was told to please take it.
I cleaned out the old water and rose bits, polished the glass globe and cleaned, scraped and polished the metal base until my fingers bled, and went shopping for the perfect rose to place inside the globe. When I was done restoring the “Forever Rose” I lovingly placed it in a beautiful gift box, wrapped the box with some glittery paper, ribbon, and bows, and then on Mom’s 63rd Birthday I proudly gave her the restored “Forever Rose.”
As she unwrapped the gift, I could feel the decades of guilt that I had carried peeling away like the glittery paper from the gift box. I just knew mom would cry when she saw the rose, but these would be tears of joy and forgiveness!
I held my breath as mom lovingly lifted the replacement “Forever Rose” from the box and gazed at the perfect rose inside the perfectly polished glass globe.
“This is pretty!” was all she said.
“Mom,” I said, a little disappointed that there weren’t gushing tears of gratefulness. “Remember out at the farm when I was helping you clean house and I accidentally broke your “Forever Rose?””
“No,” she answered, way too truthfully.
With just a little bit of incredulity I recounted the entire event; the tears, the wailing and gnashing of teeth which accounted for the decades of guilt I had carried with me until the glorious day I discovered the replacement “Forever Rose” in my sister’s-in-law garage. I explained the detailed cleaning process of the globe and the base. I depicted the nail-biting during the exhaustive hunt for the perfect replacement rose, and then impatiently waiting until her birthday to give her this symbol of love which bore my own blood, sweat, and tears.
“Well, you did a good job! It’s very pretty! Thank you!”
Some things are forever. Some things are not.
I had been carrying that guilt and regret for decades. My gift of restitution was completely unrecognized by the person whom I had deeply hurt. My hurt returned, along with the realization that mom had long ago forgiven and forgotten my accidental transgression. It was a lesson to me of not only letting go of offenses, but also the importance of letting the offender know that they are unconditionally loved.
Some things are forever.
The “Forever Rose” that I restored now sits on a shelf in our living room beside mom’s photo and her urn. They are both reminders that nothing, except love, truly is “Forever.”