Let's not reserve our roses!

Let's not reserve our roses!

Recently, my friend and I attended the funeral service of a former colleague, whom we had held in high regard. Several years ago, at the school where we were teaching, she had been head of our English Department. Once active and articulate, she lay, still and silent, at the front of the church.

Apart from sorrow at her passing, we were filled with self-reproach. After we had gone our separate ways, we had only kept in touch with our mentor by phone. Although we knew how much it would please her, we had not made the effort to meet her in person. When we heard that she was unwell, we kept telling each other that we should see her, but failed to act on our intent. Therefore, the beautiful pink and white flowers that my friend and I placed on the coffin were roses of regret. I was reminded of something that my late father used to repeat: 'Don't reserve your roses for the funeral.' He meant that rather than display devotion after people had gone beyond the reach of earthly appreciation, we should make them feel cherished while they were among us.

When he spoke of showing concern, my father mainly had older folk in mind. Even when far from young himself, he would make it a point to spend his time and share his resources with those who were senior in age. An elderly recipient of my father's kindness, who outlived him, told me how much he had enjoyed my father's comradeship. Now that it had ceased, he wondered wistfully whether anyone else would fill the void.

I am sure someone did. There are ministering angels, who bring hope to the housebound and light to the lonely. Not long ago, a fellow writer told me that she was trying to be of comfort to a lady who was struggling to cope with bereavement. Closer home, a caring couple regularly call on my mother, who is over 90. Although she stays with my husband and me and does not lack company, she greatly values their visits.

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