The work seems invisible now. But just yesterday, Mom called me on the phone. The news was bad: grandpa was in the hospital again. He’s strong, but it’s unlikely this time. For a year I watched over my grandpa’s farm. But Mom’s been showing up this whole time as one of the caretakers, whether she likes it or not. Before hanging up, Mom reminded me how we unknowingly choose ourselves to be the caretakers; we must put on our bright, cheery self and do the work that’s needed.
And also yesterday, biking home, passing by a hedge of roses, I didn’t stop. I noticed the roses’ pink and red faces though, and I smiled. I wasn’t thinking about the work that goes into blooming all spring and all summer. I wasn’t thinking about what each bush must bear, either: the wet springs, the miserable summer, the lonesome fall, and those dry, brittle winters year-after-year. Somehow, and I forget this too, we’ve put a high reputation on each rose to lift us up everyday.
Now, I’ve stopped to wonder. What makes a rose smile? How can I reciprocate the favor; as in, what makes its day brighter? What does the rose let go unnoticed, if anything? And how did the it decide to be so strong: strong with its stiff, supportive limbs; strong with its intelligent red; strong with its unyielding thorns.
This month, this year, these past few years, while my mom and I have kept up about my grandpa, I’ve witnessed my sister, Rose, hold herself up strong like spring—and have you forgotten, that spring is also filled with heavy and lousy weather? I’ve noticed friends pass her by smiling, as if that’s enough. As if acknowledging a little bit of cheer is enough, and not acknowledging the work. Yet, I’ve noticed her resilience and her upsets. I’ve noticed how she still manages to give and pour into all her relationships. And I’ve noticed, somehow, in whatever infinite source of strength it is that supports her, the rose buds of her vibrant character open time and time again.
The work seems invisible, doesn’t it? And all the world, and all relationships, can easily be taken for granted after a while. Caring and caregiving isn’t an easy job. It’s not easy for the reason that we don’t realize we are choosing it. Now, my sister steps up to the plate, conscious of it or not. Now, as she works deeply to show up for her family and our sister, Sarah, I’m hoping to be a rose for my sister. And now, my sister, Rose, (who taught me the meaning of strength: as graceful as a rose, as strong as one, too) I wish to make visible –
– This is a love letter to family: thank you for teaching me strength and continuing to forgive and give and not give up. You are one of the strongest people I know.