Mama always sent me to cut roses for “me and her” to wear to church on Mother’s Day.
“You wear a pink or red rose if your mother is living and a white rose if she has died,” Mama explained.
-Jaine Treadwell, writing in the The Troy Messenger
Growing up in a small Southern mill town I was indoctrinated in 1001 customs, traditions and niceties.
In my case, it was a futile exercise.
I’d like to say that those social graces are essential to preserving our humanity and our civilization, both of which are in big trouble these days. But in practice, I have let them all slide, save one. I have remained faithful to one of those life lessons from long, long ago: I’ve always remembered that the only place for cornbread batter is a sizzling hot cast-iron skillet.
But in thinking about some unexpected white flowers I have met, my memory turned to the same old tradition that Jaine Treadwell wrote about this week.
Her story was my story. Fifty years ago, I heard the same explanation when my mother pinned a red rose to my lapel while we got ready for church on Mother’s Day.
I’m curious if anyone still observes this little tradition. I wonder if it was just a southern thing. In any event, I hope it still happens somewhere, quaint practice though it may be. And if I do go to “church” today (i.e. a trail in the deep woods) I’ll be sure to slip a white flower in my hatband.
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