28. Oct, 2015

The keeper of secrets

Many years ago when I was a little girl, I used to love watching my father tend to his roses.

     ‘Isn’t it lovely,’ he once said, as he sniped away at the thick green stems, ‘that these beautiful flowers are a symbol of love, sorrow and sympathy?’ I wasn’t quite sure if he was talking to me or to a memory of something or someone special. He often retreated into his own world where flowers blossomed and bloomed under his tender care. I used to wonder if he loved his garden more than he loved me. But I was just a wee child then.

     I remember one particular day when I arrived home from school with my head full of worries, my father looked at my face and asked what was wrong.

     ‘Nothing,’ I said. The truth was, I didn’t know what was wrong, I just worried about everything, homework, friends, school, dying, everything! And so I sat at the table where my grandmother had placed a bowl of beef stew and dumplings. She had obviously ignored my announcement that I was no longer a meat eater, that I didn’t want anything to have to die for me. I looked around for my father but he had already retreated back to his garden.  Was I invisible?

     About an hour later, as I sat at the kitchen table doing my homework, my father came in from the garden. He asked me to stand in front of him and close my eyes. I looked at him suspiciously and knew he was hiding something behind his back. Secretly excited, I did as he asked.  

      ‘There,’ he said with great excitement in his voice and placing something around my neck, ‘this is just for you!’ I opened my eyes and saw the necklace of roses my father had made for me. ‘There’s not a prickle in sight,’ he laughed, ‘so it won’t hurt you!’

      My father then told me the reason why he made me a necklace of roses. ‘The Roman’s used to make the same thing,’ he said, ‘and anything said beneath the rose was deemed a secret.’ He touched my head as I touched the roses on my necklace and he said, ‘if there’s anything bothering you, please talk to me and I promise not to tell a soul. Anything you tell me beneath the rose necklace stays beneath it!’

       Although I was very young at the time, I believed, just like the Romans, that beneath the rose everything was sacred. And although I never did share many secrets with my father, below or above the rose necklace, I did however, share many with my friends, until the day it crumbled and fell apart!