Saturday, June 7, 2008

Red Roses in a Blue Plastic Bottle

The Veterans Cemetery has a rule that during certain times of the year, live flowers in non-breakable vases are the only acceptable decorations. The day before Memorial Day, I look over the fresh flowers at Wal-Mart.

Sentimentality wins out and I purchase a half-dozen red roses to put in front of Jim’s niche. The roses may not be the most practical choice. If the day is hot, they may wilt before the ceremony is finished. But my heart is set on the red roses. A single long-stemmed red rose was Jim’s way of saying “I love you” on anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, and for no reason at all.

Do you think I could find a plastic vase in the entire Wal-Mart Supercenter? I risk my groceries to stop at Big Lots, but they don’t have any plastic vases either. At home, I find a plastic jar that I decide I can use if my last ditch stop at the Higginsville Wal-Mart ends in failure.

Once we pull off I-70 on the way to the cemetery, my sister-in-law, Ginger, and I storm into the store; two women on a mission. First we look in the obvious places and find the normal grave arrangements along a wall. Picnic supplies are jammed onto shelves nearby.

“How about these water bottles?” Ginger asked.

“They have possibilities,” I said.

The bottles are translucent red and blue, and don’t have logos or ounce markers on them. The price is good—two for $4. They look much like vases, or at least will if we remove the lids.

We put the bottles into the cart and head for the craft section where we select white wired ribbon and some decorative pebbles. In the parking lot, we take scissors to the roses and put pebbles in the bottom of the blue bottle. The arrangement seems a little top heavy so Ginger continues to stuff pebbles into the bottle on the ride to the cemetery. By the time we put a ribbon on the improvised vase, we have a red, white, and blue floral arrangement.

A light rain falls, and we think the ceremony may be cancelled. The rain dwindles off, and the stars and stripes proudly line the white fence, and the service flags atop the columbarium whip in the gusty breeze.

Of course, when I place Jim’s roses in front of his niche, I notice about half the decorations are artificial arrangements or potted plants. Jim’s roses look nice and smell good and are worth the extra effort. Ginger and I sit a stone bench for the ceremony, and watch the roses open up to embrace the day and proclaim that love is the one thing that doesn’t die.

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