From “Under the Tree”

There are few things more immediate than a rose. The colours, the scent, the softness of the petals, the thorns. A rose is as fragile as a life.

On an early autumn morning, the sun shines through a stand of beech trees and across the small, partly enclosed garden. In the middle of the garden is a rectangular pond, around which runs a path and an outer ring of rose bushes.

I am walking my mum around the garden. She can’t actually walk anymore, but she loves to get out. I’m getting pretty good with the wheelchair. She’s lost a lot of weight, so it’s easier than it should have been.

We stop every so often so she can look at something that has caught her eye. There is a peach coloured rose by the top end of the pond. A beam of sunlight is just catching the top of the flower heads. They glow bright, as if they have been filled with some new energy.

My mum smiles. It is a distant smile, brought from a lifetime away. It is full of a childlike delight. She stares at the roses, enchanted, until the sun moves around. Then she turns to me, still smiling.

Around each rose bush there is a scattering of newly fallen petals. We head back into the hospice. She was beginning to get a bit chilly.

It is true: there are few things more immediate than a rose. But the memory of a rose: as long as I have breath, I’ll remember that.


(Text from the book “Under the Tree” © 2018 gavin r jones. Images © the estate of audrey jones)

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