The Sweetest Rose In Heaven

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images The name “Rosalie” means ‟garden of roses” and I would have to say that when my sister-in-law Rosalie’s parents named her that, they could hardly have imagined the appropriateness of her name. It is such a beautiful metaphor for her life and personality. A garden is something that brings great joy to the one who beholds it, the one who gets to spend time enjoying every aspect of it, as all of her family and friends did every day that Rosalie was with us.

My husband Rolly, Rosalie’s younger brother was for many years an avid collector of roses, and  because of that I happen to know quite a few by name. Gardening seems to have run in their family; Mina, their mother, instilled that in all of her children.

If I were to plant a tribute garden for Rosalie the first rose would have to be a specimen called “Autumn Delight” as she was born in autumn, on October 15, 1939. In fact she was the first baby born to a Canadian soldier of the Second World War. The “Delight” part of the name is obvious; Rosalie was a delight to all who knew her. I would then plant a rose called “First Prize”. This would be in memory of Rosalie taking home the trophy for having the “Most Beautiful Baby” at the Poplar Hill Picnic, an annual celebration in the little village I live beside. I can’t remember which one of her children it was—baby Mark, Donna, or Carol, but it really doesn’t matter. When they were small they were each, in turn, the most beautiful baby ever born, in the eyes of  their mother.

I would definitely omit the rose “Blue Girl” from the line up, as Rosalie was seldom blue; she had an upbeat personality and was always a help and support to others in their personal struggles. That’s what made her such a valued and much-loved nurse— that and the quality of compassion. And, yes, there is a rose named “Compassion”, so I’d find a spot for that one too.

‟ Buff Beauty”, “Sun ’n Sand” and “Carefree Delight” would all be planted close together in this glorious tribute garden. They bring to mind for me an image of Rosalie— young and tanned and buff in her two piece swim suit, at the beach, enjoying the summer sun, and the sand between her toes. “Carefree Delight”— that rose symbolizes the absolute relaxation she was always able to instill in others, when spending holidays or a weekend away together. And I have to say that I was always in awe of Rosalie, in her ability to wear a two piece swim suit and to pull it off, well beyond when I had lost the nerve. (And I don’t mean the suit! I mean the self-confident attitude!) She knew that the Lord made her and loved her, and she knew that her husband Bob loved her, and so she was free to love herself.

The roses “Champagne Cocktail”, “Tequila”, and “Whiskey” would have to be left out of the garden, in light of Rosalie’s tee-totalling life style. She never touched a drop (that she was aware of that is!) I still remember a party many years ago at my sister Marsha and her husband John’s first university days’ apartment, that Rolly and I took Rosalie and her husband Bob to. Well, Rosalie was the life of the party! She never knew it, but apparently somebody had spiked the punch. In any case she never needed anything to lighten her mood, to be more fun, to have a great time. She was a great hostess, she was a great guest, and she was a good Baptist (Except for maybe just that one time!)

People just assume that Baptists, don’t ever drink, they don’t ever dance and maybe they don’t even play cards. In all likelihood, if you think this, then you are wrong. A lot depends on the person; it depends on the particular church they attend, and it depends on the particulars of the situation. In general, the rule that one would adhere to is the Lord’s command— not to put yourself into any situation which might cause your brother to stumble. Apparently Rosalie took this rule literally, for I never once, as far as I can recall, ever saw her asking her brother Rolly to dance. (Sorry Rolly)

Bob and Rosalie loved to dance and were great on the dance floor together. They enjoyed the fun of community dances, and family celebrations, with expertly executed polkas, waltzes and the like. They also belonged to a Heritage Dance Group and kept incredibly active performing near and far until a few short months before Rosalie’s passing. I’ll never forget how she looked in her beautiful ruffled blouse and flouncy twirly purple skirt on Bob’s proud arm. (Rosalie on his arm! Not the skirt!) as they stopped by on their way to a heritage event in nearby Komoka. In honour of her love of dance I think the tribute garden should also have the roses “Polka”, “Troika”, and even “Rock and Roll” for good measure.

At every family gathering Rosalie could be counted on to be the first to say “Who wants to play cards?” Whether it was Hearts, or Euchre, or 21, she loved them all and was good at them all — so for her I would just have to plant the rose “Winning Girl”.

As a reminder of the special relationship that Bob and Rosalie had for over 50 years I would add in the roses “First Love”, “Scentimental” and “Loving Touch”.

The last ones that I would plant to complete the garden would be those that would bring to mind where she is at this very moment. I can think of no better choices than “Peace”, “Joyfulness”, “Golden Wings” and “Triumphant”.

We love you Rosalie, we still miss you more than we can say. In your honour I will add in a very long lasting and beautiful rose, the treasure — “Loving Memory”.

In honour of Rosalie Ann Johnson October 15,1939 — June 6, 2011

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